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On behalf of our 20,000 members, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), respectfully OPPOSES Assembly Bill 2297 (Vainieri Huttle, Spencer, Sumter)/ Senate Bill 659 (Turner). This bill requires health insurance coverage for contraceptives to include prescriptions for 12 months.

NJBIA is concerned that this measure has not been reviewed by the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission prior to being heard in committee. To create an objective assessment of the impact this health insurance coverage mandate could have on the cost of purchasing healthcare benefits, the Commission is charged with providing the Legislature with independent documentation defining the social and financial impact and medical effectiveness of proposed mandated health benefits legislation.

The Association places a strong and consistent focus on the quality and affordability of health insurance in New Jersey. The cost of providing health coverage to employees is one of the most significant challenges facing employers today. It is consistently ranked the number one problem facing our members in our annual NJBIA Business Outlook Survey.

The role of the Commission is particularly important considering that employers continue to cope with rising costs for healthcare coverage. In 2015, the cost of health insurance premiums reached $6,365 for single HMO coverage and $18,096 for family coverage in the Northeast, according to the Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits. The national average for all plans is $6,251 for single coverage and $17,545 for family coverage. In comparison to this national cost data, in 2014 the New Jersey average for employee only health coverage was $7,416 and $19,116 for family coverage, which far exceeds the national average.

With the cost of health coverage steadily climbing and coverage continually eroding, it is crucial that the impact of all coverage mandates be carefully evaluated. It is unclear what impact this mandate would have on the cost of health insurance.

For these reasons, we respectfully ask that you vote “NO” on A-2297/ S-659.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments.

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