The majority of small businesses are not ready for the new health care reform set to take effect in the coming months, research shows.
A new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed that only 30 percent of small businesses are prepared for the impending requirements of the Affordable Care Act, including participation in the Health Insurance Marketplace, while one-quarter are completely unaware of what's required under the new law.
Overall, 49 percent of small business owners are concerned about health care reform, a 10 percentage point increase since 2011.
With part of the law mandating that small businesses with 50 or more employees provide health care coverage to their workers, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said it is making it more difficult for them to hire new employees.
Among small businesses surveyed that will be affected by the employer mandate, one-half said they will either cut hours to reduce full-time employees or replace full-time employees with part-timers to avoid the mandate. Additionally, 24 percent plan to reduce hiring to stay under 50 employees.
"The impact of the health care law on small business gets worse with every day that passes," said Rob Engstrom, the chamber’s senior vice president and national political director. "Health care will be a defining issue for the business community."
Regardless of health care concerns, the study shows outlook for hiring is grim. More than 60 percent of the small business owners surveyed said they have no plans to hire new employees in the next year.
The study was based on surveys of 1,300 small business executives.