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Premiums in New Jersey’s health insurance market for small businesses have risen an average 10.4% in 2022, according to a new report from the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (QI).

Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of QI, said Thursday that the small business market is “in peril” because of rising premiums and declining enrollment.

In 2005, nearly 1 million small business employees and their families obtained their health insurance through New Jersey’s small group market, she said. By 2020, enrollment had dropped to 295,000, according to the latest state Department of Banking & Insurance data.

“If the downward spiral continues, small businesses may find it impossible to provide state regulated health insurance for their employees and their families,” Schwimmer wrote this week in her blog about the institute’s June 2 report.

Small employers (those with two to 50 full-time employees) are not required by law to provide health insurance to their employees, Schwimmer said. However, many employers choose to because it is important to their workers, as well as a valuable tool in attracting and retaining employees.

Schwimmer said the institute has applauded the state’s efforts to support and strengthen the individual market, which has enabled more people than ever to be insured in our state.

“But the state should not ignore the small group health insurance market, nor leave small employers and their employees struggling to find affordable, and consumer protected health benefits,” Schwimmer said.

The report made a series of nine recommendations to address affordability and transparency in small group insurance market, including a state tax credit for employers with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees who offer plans that comply with New Jersey and Affordable Care Act regulations.  NJBIA is currently evaluating the QI recommendations, which are in addition to the association’s continuous advocacy efforts to address the cost of rising health insurance premiums. The full report is available here.

NJBIA has long advocated before the Legislature and Executive branches to address the challenges and rising costs in the small employer market by opposing many mandates that impact health insurance premiums.   

The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is a membership organization working to improve the safety, quality, and affordability of healthcare in the state. NJBIA is a member of the institute.