Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Sociology (Rural and Environmental Change Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Teresa Sobieszczyk

Commitee Members

Rebecca Richards, Helena Hoas


University of Montana


For decades small business owners have been struggling to offer health insurance to their employees. Health insurance reform has been an issue of contention over the last few decades, culminating in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23,2010. One measure policy makers took to increase access to health insurance was to provide incentives to small business owners to offer health insurance. However, prior research has indicated that economic incentives alone do not guarantee the provision of health insurance coverage by small business owners. Previous research has rarely examined the noneconomic (social/cultural) factors behind why small business owners choose to provide or not to provide health insurance coverage for their employees. Rural Montana offers a unique opportunity to study economic and social factors that influence health insurance decision as it has high rates of employment in small firms. I conducted qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews with small business owners in four rural western Montana communities to explore their reasoning for providing or not providing health insurance. Results indicate that small business owners are influenced by many interrelated practical/economic factors as well as social factors.



© Copyright 2010 Rebecca Esther Goe