“Obamacare may cost more than experts previously thought, according to a survey of 900 employers released Wednesday. As companies scramble to prepare for a wave of new health care rules that go into effect next year, an increasing number have become pessimistic about the cost, according to Mercer, a benefits consulting firm. Roughly one in five employers (19 percent) now expect that health care costs will rise by more than 5 percent as the result of the law.”

“It’s called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama’s health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels. That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer ‘affordable’ coverage or face fines.”

“You’ve heard of the ‘fog of war.’ Well, now we’ve got the fog of Obamacare. The controversial Affordable Care Act (ACA) has so many moving parts that it’s hard to know how its implementation is proceeding.”

“Employers are increasingly recognizing they may be able to avoid certain penalties under the federal health law by offering very limited plans that can lack key benefits such as hospital coverage. Benefits advisers and insurance brokers—bucking a commonly held expectation that the law would broadly enrich benefits—are pitching these low-benefit plans around the country. They cover minimal requirements such as preventive services, but often little more.”

“Forty-eight percent of U.S. small-business owners say the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) is going to be bad for their business, compared with 9% who say it is going to be good, and 39% who expect no impact… Similarly, 52% of owners say the ACA is going to reduce the quality of healthcare they and their employees receive. This contrasts with 13% who feel it will improve the quality of care their employees get, and 30% who see no impact.”

“Many executives have long enjoyed perks like free health care and better health benefits for themselves and their families. But under a little noticed anti-discrimination provision in the federal health law, such advantages could soon trigger fines of up to $500,000. Employers ‘should be more concerned about this than anything else’ in the law, because many are in violation and the penalties can be stiff, says Jay Starkman, chief executive of Engage PEO in St. Petersburg, Fla., which offers human resources services and advises clients on the health law.”

“The health care law is ‘the most disruptive instrument to the American workplace in my lifetime.’ That’s the perspective of Richmond businessman William J. Goldin, Jr., president of family-owned Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers since 1978, who testified before the Small Business Committee last week. Even proponents of the controversial health care law are now worried, as the predictable problems become a reality.”

“The nation’s largest movie theater chain has cut the hours of thousands of employees, saying in a company memo that ObamaCare requirements are to blame. Regal Entertainment Group, which operates more than 500 theaters in 38 states, last month rolled back shifts for non-salaried workers to 30 hours per week, putting them under the threshold at which employers are required to provide health insurance.”

“In a 2010 paper I authored for the Heritage Foundation, I documented the delayed and failed effort by the Massachusetts public exchange (Connector) to offer real choice and savings to small businesses. My report suggested the experience served as a warning to other states. I suppose I should have targeted it toward the federal government instead.”

“What if there were a way for even small employers to escape some Affordable Care Act rules blamed for driving up costs? Some see self-insurance for medical care, which is exempt from the law’s taxes, benefit rules and price restrictions taking effect next year, as just such an opportunity… In some circumstances, self-insurance by small businesses with younger employees could cause premiums in the small-group insurance market to rise by 25 percent, according to previous research from the Commonwealth Fund and the Urban Institute.”