Survey Finds More New Jersey Businesses Dropped Health Benefits Last Year

Individual or Family Health
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Ney Jersey Business Health Insurance

As many States are scrambling to propose legislation and implement plans to help their uninsured and underinsured residents, a recent survey found that more small businesses cut medical benefits or eliminated them entirely in the state of New Jersey in 2006.

According to the survey that was conducted by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, more Jersey firms making up its membership dropped health insurance benefits last year than in years prior in the wake of ever increasing prices. The results of the survey will probably ring true with Jersey State legislators who are now wrestling with the question of introducing a” Universal” health insurance plan like some of its other Northeast neighbors in New York and Massachusetts.

While a majority of business in New Jersey do provide group medial insurance benefits to their employees the number is dropping. The survey found that in 2006 the number of New Jersey business with 2-19 employees that provided health benefits was 82% down from 87% in 2004, and 92% in 2003. Cost has been sited as the major factor. Health insurance costs were approximately $7500.00 per covered employee in 2006, up about 12% from 2005, and up an astounding 80% over the last five years. That is a tough increase for small businesses to take, said the Group. NJBIA President Philip Kirschner said, “Health insurance costs are rising at more than three times the rate of inflation. It's clear that the pain of rising costs is hitting the smallest businesses the hardest, and this has forced some to drop coverage altogether."

The results of the NJBIA survey comes as Gov. Jon S. Corzine is putting together a plan for Universal Health Coverage much like the one recently implemented in Massachusetts. He is expected to run the plan by State Legislators later this year. The NJBIA says it is not a matter of if Universal Coverage is the answer or not, it is important that any proposed reform makes health insurance more affordable to the small business purchaser though tax advantages or other incentives. According to Kirschner, the ultimate goal has to be to bring down the costs and provide affordable health insurance for businesses of all sizes.