While employers can calculate – or at least try to – the number of employees who will be newly eligible for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1, they have no way of knowing how many will actually elect coverage. More companies are foreseeing a negative cost impact from the ACA, according to research from Mercer released Wednesday, and nearly a quarter are still uncertain how they will track wage earners who work variable hours.

In the survey of nearly 900 employers, 9% of respondents say ACA will have little or no cost impact on their bottom line (adding less than 1%), down significantly from the 25% who thought so in 2011. Two years ago, 15% expected costs to rise significantly (to the tune of 5% or more); today, that number is 19%.

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