New Jersey employers saw their health insurance costs increase by more than twice the rate of the national average, based on the results of a respected national survey released the same day as NJBIA’s 2018 Health Benefits Survey of its member companies.

While NJBIA members are facing an overall 8.5 percent increase in the cost of health benefits, the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2018 reported the average total health benefit cost per employee rose by 3.6 percent for all U.S. employers.

Both the NJBIA and Mercer reports were released on Tuesday.

“While overall cost growth remains moderate, averaging 3.3 percent annually over the past five years compared to 5.7 percent over the prior ten-year period, it continues to outpace inflation,” Mercer stated in its press release.

The difference is significant because the higher the cost of doing business in New Jersey, the harder it is for businesses to compete with their counterparts in other states.

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka said the issue of cost of doing business deserves more attention.

“We need our policymakers to recognize that health benefits are a big part of the employee compensation packages our job creators put together to remain competitive,” she said. “But when you add the continued growing expense of healthcare coverage to the growing list of costly mandates, and the discussion of an increase to a $15 minimum wage, it will be increasingly challenging for them to thrive in the state of New Jersey.”