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Industry Insights

As Washington stalls on health care, Jersey businesses brace for increases

By ,
Jon Harmon.
Jon Harmon.

The cost of purchasing health coverage is a top concern for business of all sizes. The smaller the company, the bigger the worry.

Overall, New Jersey’s small businesses have seen relatively stable health insurance premiums in recent years which has been good news. Stable premiums allow business owners to invest in growing their businesses.

Next year is likely to be different. Health care inflation is increasing and will trigger bigger increases.  More concerning, entrepreneurs and Mom-n-Pop businesses who buy coverage in the individual health insurance market next year are expected to see premiums skyrocket in the Affordable Care Act marketplace. 

Across the country, insurers are beginning to file their plans for next year. The results are near consistent: premiums are skyrocketing for individual plans.  In state after state, we are seeing premium increases anywhere from 22 to as much as 50 percent. This is simply too much to bear. Health care is already expensive enough without this added increase. 

To be fair, this will not impact all New Jerseyans.  Approximately 300,000 chose a plan through the marketplace. But for these 300,000, an increase of that nature would be devastating.  It is unfair for this group to bear the brunt of big premium increases because they chose to start a business, run a small family business or simply to retire early.

The atmosphere of uncertainty that Washington has nurtured these last several months is a key component of why we are seeing these nationwide increases in the individual market.  The combined effect of the federal Health Insurance Tax, lack of enforcement of the individual mandate and no commitment to fund required cost sharing subsidies that reduce cost for low income individuals have triggered the premium increases in the individual market.   

Businesses try to reduce risk and provide stability. The health insurance industry is no different.  That cannot happen, however, if a company has no idea which government regulations will be enforced or taxes will be implemented.  This creates instability and uncertainty.

Washington can do something about this, but in the meantime, New Jersey businesses must brace for possible higher health insurance premiums.

John Harmon is the current CEO and president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and a Better Choices, Better Care NJ Steering committee member. For further information on Better Choices, Better Care NJ, follow us on Twitter (@BCBCNJ) and Facebook (Better Choices, Better Care NJ).

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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