Last March, Congress passed the 2,000 page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) with the stated goal of ensuring that more Americans are covered by health insurance, and by making the cost of insurance more affordable. For the most part, businesses will not begin feeling the effects of the law until 2014, when the penalties and coverage mandates become effective. That hasn't stopped some groups from claiming early successes — like an increase in the number of businesses that offer coverage for their employees and a decrease in premiums.
According to a recent commentary in Business Week, however, the increase in the percentage of small businesses that offer health care coverage to their employees can be attributed to a decrease in the number of small businesses that have survived the recession and continue to operate. Instead, the commentator says that the early numbers show that PPACA has had a net negative effect on businesses. The key problem is that in response to the perception that PPACA will cause costs to rise, business owners are requiring their employees to pay more for coverage or cutting down on the coverage offered.
Again, with the majority of the law's provisions not taking effect until 2014, it will be some time before we know whether PPACA will accomplish its goals. But there is no question that the law — perceived as not being business-friendly — has small business owners seriously concerned.