A "staggering" number of small businesses are postponing compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through such responses as pushing back health plan renewals dates to Dec. 1.

A large-scale study of employers that offer health care to their workforce by United Benefit Advisors revealed a massive shift toward the Dec. 1 date last year. Such actions are making it difficult to assess the true impact the PPACA will have on business, United Benefits Advisors said.

The numbers of small business renewal plan shifters are impressive: In 2012, 507 employers with 50 or fewer employees in the survey group had Dec. 1 renewal plan dates. In 2013, that had grown to 2,598 — a 412 percent increase.

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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.