What's on the mind of the small-to-medium sized business owner when asked to forecast business conditions in 2014? Health coverage, above all else.

Research by Principal Financial drew a picture of these business owners as fairly optimistic about 2014, but concerned about health insurance. Asked to rank what they felt would be the issues that would have the greatest effect on their businesses next year, 36 percent listed either health care costs or health care reform as the No. 1 factor. Second? The impact of economic growth their business.

Principal found that about a third of the business owners are feeling optimistic about business conditions overall for 2014, and 55 percent said they thought their financials would be better a year from now as the economy continues to rebound.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.