While both the mandate that large employers provide health-care coverage to their employees and key provisions of the SHOP exchange available to small businesses — in which they can offer a choice of health plans to their employees through the public marketplace — won’t happen until 2015, experts say most business owners are eager to see how the Affordable Care Act and the public exchanges that opened in October will affect how they cover their workers.

“Any time you undertake something that is as far-reaching and as inclusive as what we are talking about here, there are going to be issues,” explains Lorin Lacy, a principal at Buck Consultants, a global HR benefits consulting firm. “Everybody is anticipating that it is going to be rough in the beginning and, at the end of the day, will be a couple of years before we see the systems really able to handle things effectively.”

“That is why,” he continues, “we expect to see most employers decide to continue what they are doing and hopefully see there are cost-effective alternatives.”

The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare, seeks to increase employer-sponsored health coverage in two ways: by requiring businesses with more than 50 employees to cover those who work at least 30 hours a week or face penalties for not doing so; and by giving tax credits to small businesses with fewer than 25 employees who decide to provide health insurance.

Read more in the November 2013 edition of the Business Magazine.