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NJBIA Health Benefits SurveyNJBIA’s 2018 Health Benefits Survey reveals a decline in member companies offering healthcare coverage to their employees, but overall a strong commitment to making sacrifices to keep coverage despite rising healthcare costs.

According to the survey:

  •  78 percent of members said they offer healthcare coverage to employees, which is down from the 85 percent in NJBIA’s 2016 Health Benefits Survey. Additionally, 70 percent of companies with 1-24 employees said they offer healthcare coverage, down 6 percent from 2016.
  •  At the same time, 40 percent of the companies that offer coverage said they took a lower profit or suffered a loss in order to continue providing health benefits – compared to 33 percent in 2016. Another 27 percent froze or limited wage increases and 21 percent delayed or reduced business investments to maintain their coverage.
  • Overall, costs increased an average of 8.5 percent for health insurance last year for companies, with members able to negotiate lower increases than what was provided to them in initial quotes.

“The increasing costs of healthcare present challenges in New Jersey businesses of all sizes, especially when factoring the cumulative costs brought on by other business mandates,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “We’re proud to see our members taking whatever steps they can to provide a competitive benefit package that will help recruit and retain their employees given these challenges.

“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. 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.”

This year, NJBIA asked members if and how they anticipated the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, which took effect yesterday, would impact their business. A total of 54 percent said there would be no impact.

Of those who forecasted impacts:

  •  20 percent said they anticipated an increase in the cost of benefits;
  • 13 percent said they were considering a reduction in benefits;
  • 8 percent said they were considering a reduction in staff;
  •  7 percent were considering a reduction in employee hours.

The survey shows companies continuing to use a multitude of core strategies to manage healthcare costs, with:

  •  38 percent introducing high-deductible health plans;
  •  37 percent increasing deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance;
  • 29 percent increasing the employee share of premium contributions;
  • 23 percent changing insurance carriers;
  •  17 percent reducing some types of covered benefits;
  •  13 percent increasing wellness incentives and disease management programs.

Overall, 33 percent of member companies offer less expensive, high-deductible health plans. Employers are now paying 76.3 percent of the total cost of health benefits, compared to 73.9 percent in 2016. They have also reduced their share of the cost of dependent coverage to 46.3 percent, compared to 47.9 percent two years ago.

The average cost for employee-only plans is $8,292 per year; for parent-child plans $12,240; for husband-wife coverage $15,120 and for family coverage $19,764. All of these costs were considerably higher than the results of the 2016 survey.

There was a slight decline in voluntary benefits in 2018. Of those results:

  •  58 percent of members offer dental benefits (down from 63 percent in 2016);
  • 41 percent offer vision benefits (down from 47 percent in 2016);
  •  24 percent offer a flexible spending account (down from 30 percent in 2016);
  •  22 percent offer a health savings account (down from 24 percent in 2016).

Across the board, the larger the company, the more likely employees are to be offered additional voluntary benefits. For example, of companies with more than 250 employees, 89 percent over vision benefits, 75 percent offer a flexible spending account.

When you enrolled in your health care plan, you probably got information that describes all your benefits.

It can be a lot of information to digest. But there’s one thing you can count on – it’s worth taking a look before you need to use your benefits.

Know your medical benefits

Before you visit a doctor, find out what medical services are covered by your plan so you’re not surprised. In particular, make sure to read the Certificate of Coverage and Summary Plan Description. And if you have questions, call the number on the back of your insurance card.

You should also find out what your out-of-pocket costs might be for each type of visit, test or procedure.

This may sound like a broken record to you by now, but preventive care is a great way to avoid sickness and stay healthy.

Many plans cover annual check ups, screenings and tests. Find out what your plan covers.

Be sure to take advantage of any health and wellness discounts offered by your plan. Look for savings on things like fitness clubs memberships, nutrition counseling, weight loss programs by using harmless and natural treatments like  leptitox.

There is a continuing trend of larger NJBIA member companies offering wellness programs to their employees – with some unique trends inside the numbers.

For example, 43 percent of companies with more than 250 employees provide fitness club reimbursement. That’s compared to only 32 percent in 2016.

At the same time, only 23 percent of those large companies offer nutrition/weight loss management programs (down from 41 percent in 2016); 40 percent of those large companies furnish health education (down from 53 percent in 2016) and 37 percent are offering smoking cessation programs (compared to 53 percent in 2016).

For the full survey results, visit here.