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Employers Are Ready For The Affordable Care Act. Even If They Don't Really Understand It

Small-Business To Obamacare: Bring It On. I Think.
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Many provisions of the Affordable Care Act are set to take effect in January. And do America’s business owners have to say about it?

Bring it on. Or, wait. Don't.

That’s the finding of a new survey of 1,000 employers with between 50 and 999 workers, released today by ADP Research Institute. Seventy percent of those surveyed expressed confidence that their companies will be able to meet the requirements of the new health-care law. At the same time, however, only 48 percent felt confident that their organizations understand all the new ACA regulations.

A separate survey of HR/benefits decision makers in June 2013 found that only 32 percent were extremely or very confident that their firms actually understand the regulations. And nine out of 10 were not confident that their employees understand the impact of the ACA on their benefits and benefits choices. 

The confusion isn’t surprising, particularly given the kinds of employers surveyed. “The legislation changes dramatically if you have more than 50 full-time-equivalent employees," says Jessica Saperstein, division vice president of strategy and business development at ADP. "Many of these companies have full- and part-time employees, so there is a lot of complexity in defining eligibility and what you need to do to be in compliance.”

Asked about specific measures they are taking in light of the ACA, more than one-third of survey respondents said they will offer, or already are offering, wellness programs. A similar number are reducing medical plan options, and 28 percent already have started, or plan to start, capping the hours of part-time employees to keep them below the levels required for providing coverage.

Many critics of the Obamacare claim that the new regulations will depress hiring. But only 20 percent of respondents in the ADP survey plan to suspend additional hiring. And fully half of respondents said that they “definitely will not” reduce the number of employees in response to the ACA and 35 percent expected to increase headcount in 2013.

“The good news is that we’re not seeing a dramatic downturn in hiring,” says Saperstein. “There is still an expectation of growth.”

Last updated: Nov 1, 2013

ADAM BLUESTEIN

Adam Bluestein is a frequent contributor to Inc., writing about health care, innovation, and new technology. He lives with his wife and two children in Burlington, Vermont.




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