“These mandates have increased our clients’ health plan costs 2 to 3 percent on average to this point,” he said. And he said the costs will escalate further when new rules — such as reductions in waiting periods and the automatic enrollment requirement — take effect in 2014.

Fensholt is a senior vice president of Lockton Companies, LLC, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm that provides employee-benefits expertise to 2,500 mostly middle-market employers.

In addition to the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates, Fensholt said a “great frustration” for his clients is the law’s “many additional administrative burdens.”…

“Our clients are already drowning under the cost of provi ding robust health insurance to employees,” Fensholt said. “Rather than tossing employers a lifeline, the Affordable Care Act is in many ways an anchor — albeit a well-intentioned one — by piling on additional costs and burdens.”