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One part of the new law is a set of tax credits and penalties designed to encourage employers to provide insurance.The problem is that for most young small businesses, it won't work.That's the conclusion I reached, based on research I conducted with Alicia Robb of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.We examined the decisions of founders of young companies on whether or not to offer health insurance, using information from the Kauffman Firm Survey, which tracks a cohort of nearly 5,000 new businesses started in 2004. The data show that very few new businesses offer employee health insurance. Nearly two-thirds of companies with employees did not offer employee health insurance at any time during their first five years of operation. Moreover, only one in five offered insurance to their workers in all of the years. insurance: no performance benefits The few young small businesses that offered health insurance differed dramatically from those that didn't: They tended to be larger and higher-paying, structured as partnerships and corporations, and they offered their employees a wide variety of benefits. Most young businesses don't fit this profile. The majority are sole proprietorships with few, modestly paid employees. Only a handful of young companies grow dramatically. A minority shift from sole proprietorships to other legal structures. Few ever add a lot of benefits. This means that only a small portion of young small businesses are health-insurance-providing types. Most are not. One argument that's often made to justify giving employees health insurance is that doing so helps companies perform better. Those that offer employee health insurance, the argument goes, get better and harder-working employees. We examined whether the provision of employee health insurance provides any performance benefits to young companies. We found that it does not. Controlling for a variety of other firm and founder characteristics, we saw no significant effect from providing employee health insurance on firm survival, growth in assets, growth in sales, growth in profits, or growth in employment during the first five years of operation. Stated differently, offering employee health insurance doesn't appear to do anything to improve the performances of young companies, despite what some observers argue. We shouldn't claim that the new law will benefit small business owners by making their companies more successful. low-paying, sole proprietorships