Inc. provided a fuller spectrum of small businesses and what they face as they make these tough decisions. For each business, Inc. lays out three main sections—a backstory, the firm’s benefits today, and a section called “What’s Next,” which offers the firm’s current thinking about its options. We note that the Times piece, published after Inc.’s Feb. 28 story, also follows the chunk approach, a good way to break down some complicated stuff. Weed uses five sections: The challenge, The background, The options, What others say, and The results.

This approach would work on similar stories all around the country. For example, one of the businesses profiled by Inc.—a craft beer maker in Indianapolis called Sun King—offers life insurance and disability benefits but no health insurance. It is still in the running-the-numbers stage and is considering raising wages to help workers buy their own insurance through a small business exchange called a SHOP exchange. (Reporters covering this story should look at these exchanges and examine their viability. The one in Massachusetts has not been successful.)

Two of Inc.’s profiles make important points about the inequities in the Affordable Care Act, which goes back to that challenge of trying to achieve universal coverage in a system run by private insurance companies. An Ohio parts manufacturer has provided health insurance as a way to attract talented workers. But the owner, Steven Elliott, worries that Obamacare gives an advantage to small garage shop competitors. His competitors employ fewer people, which means those workers can shop in the state exchanges and receive subsidies. Health insurance is “not really a differentiator any more,” Elliott says.

An Orlando employment agency that helps companies find technical staff also believes that health benefits are an important recruiting tool. About 100 employees get insurance from the company. But that insurance is not created equal. According to Inc., project-based consultants get a less-robust package than full-timers. That not only brings up fairness issues, but raises the knotty question about who can and cannot shop in an exchange when there’s employer coverage—a problem faced by Jeremy Devor, an engineering assistant in Salem, IL, whose insurance troubles we’ve been following for several years.

We’ve recommended this reportorial technique and are glad to see the Times doing a version of it. Following a local business or two through implementation of Obamacare might be a dandy way to cover the business angle in a digestible way.

Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team.

Related stories:

Exchange Watch: Growing pains in Connecticut

Papa John’s Pizza and the business backlash

How an anti-tax HIT squad employs the press


Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.