Employers nationwide - both big and small - are watching and waiting to see whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's state exchanges will succeed when they open for business in 2014. Small employers and those with low-paid or part-time employees are especially interested in finding out whether funneling their employees into an exchange or finding coverage for them through one would be beneficial.

But the roadmap to 2014 is a sketchy one. The status of the state exchanges is "all over the place," says Mike Thompson, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "There are states that are moving forward with money allocated by the federal government to help them start planning for the exchanges and some have already started to do their initial planning studies. At the same time, there is clearly some resistance from some states moving forward, and some states may choose to backseat implementation on this until the courts determine its constitutionality. It's really a 'tale of two cities' at this point."

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