New York’s small business owners are ready to embrace health insurance exchanges as a way to provide insurance to their employees, and may even provide a boon to struggling small business owners, according to a recent survey.

The survey, commissioned by a New York-based commercial health insurance exchange called HealthPass New York and done by Hudson TG, showed that 84% of about 300 respondents described the federally mandated health insurance exchanges as a good idea…that is, after a reading about the proposed New York State small business exchange. More than three-quarters said they would consider using a health insurance exchange when enrolling their employees in a health benefits program.

Also, 76% of the respondents believe the climate for small businesses in New York State is on the wrong track and only 27% report their own businesses are doing well, with starker numbers outside of New York City and Long Island. As such, the exchanges are perceived by many to provide some kind of relief for busienss and employees. 

The exchanges may incentivize some small businesses to offer coverage, according to the study.

Among  businesses that do not currently provide health insurance to their employees, 60% said they would be more likely to offer coverage if an exchange was available.

Indeed, many small business respondents were not even familiar with exchanges before hearing them described by the researchers; only one in five (19%) are familiar with health insurance exchanges, the study found. New York still needs to pass the enabling law. The Governor and State Assembly have approved a health insurance exchange bill, but the Senate has yet to adopt a similar measure.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 requires states to create their own exchanges to give small businesses access to affordable health care coverage or be included in a federal exchange. The law gives states the freedom to design Affordable Insurance Exchanges – one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs. The exchanges are to begin operating by Jan. 1, 2014.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have already received planning grants, and 45 states have consulted with consumer advocates and insurance companies. Thirteen states have passed legislation to create an exchange, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.