For small-business owners, cost is still the single biggest obstacle to providing employee health-care coverage, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

In a broad survey of its 600,000 members, 74 percent of respondents identified costs as the most important problem facing the health care system, the Washington-based lobby said this week.

To control costs, 76 percent said individual behavior that can affect health should be factored into insurance premiums, including smoking and weight. Another 58 percent said an employer's role in health-care coverage should remain voluntary, while 30 percent said employers should have no role at all.

"A difference in top priorities appears between Congress and America's small-business owners," William Dennis, the group's senior researcher, said in a statement. "One is primarily interested in coverage and the other cost. If lawmakers can reduce costs, small businesses can help increase coverage in the long-run."

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