The vast majority of small businesses that are members of professional employer organizations offer health care benefits, according to a new survey.

A survey of more than 700 small businesses members commissioned by the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations, Alexandria, Va., found 95% offer health benefits.

Most of the businesses in the survey had 50 or fewer employees.

The survey participants said they do not expect to raise employees’ share of the cost of coverage in 2007, even though their health care premiums rose an average of 7.7% this year.

NAPEO reports 64% of the firms surveyed insist state and local governments should not require employers to provide health benefits.

About 69% of small business owners blamed insurance companies for rising health costs, and 41% blamed medical providers. Only 33% blamed employees who overuse insurance benefits.

NAPEO also found that 55% of business owners believe their employees are interested in wellness and prevention programs to reduce the need for health care.