Health costs, PPACA rank as obstacles to mid-sized biz successNews added by Benefits Pro on November 4, 2013

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By Dan Cook

Mid-sized U.S. businesses are definitely still looking for the silver lining in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Paying for employee health insurance, and managing the effects on their business of the act, rank as their top two concerns in an ADP study of more than 1,000 businesses with between 50 and 999 employees.

Unlike small businesses, these economic engines can’t avoid the requirements of the act. And unlike their larger brethren, many of them have neither the resources nor the political clout to easily adapt to the changes rolling through the health care landscape.

Asked to rate their top challenges this year and next, 70 percent listed paying for employee health coverage as the No. 1 challenge, and two-thirds said the cost of coverage was a barrier to achieving their business goals.

After sharing their concerns about being able to afford coverage, the respondents were asked whether they believed they were ready to comply with the act. Here, ADP found a disturbing “disconnect.”

While 70 percent of bosses thought they’d be in “complete compliance” with ACA, their HR people begged to differ.

Two-thirds of those decision-makers said they were confident they had their arms around the act, yet 90 percent said they didn’t think their workers understand the act’s many implications for selecting the right benefits package for themselves.

Overall, concern about being responsive to the act rose 16 percent from the 2012 survey to this year’s version.

No. 3 on the concerns list was that old favorite, government regulations.

Slightly more than half the respondents chose it as their top concern. The survey may have found an underlying cause for this perennial bump in the road: 57 percent said they still rely on paper-based records for company record-keeping.

Elsewhere, the survey suggested that these mid-sized company representatives aren’t the best sources of economic forecasts.

“When surveyed in 2012, only 15 percent of business owners expressed confidence in 2013's economic outlook. However, when surveyed this year on last year's performance, 61 percent judged that the economy had improved in the previous 12 months,” ADP reported.

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