A new audit released today by State Comptroller Matt Boxer contends that New Jersey local governments could save more than a $100 million each year by opting for the state health plan instead of pricier alternatives.

The Comptroller specifically examined four government entities of varying locations and size (Essex County, Brick Township, East Brunswick Township and Haddon Township) and found that joining the State Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) would have collectively saved those entities $12.5 million over the two-year period of 2009 and 2010. On average, the savings would have amounted to approximately $1,000 per enrollee. If that ratio held true for all local governments in the state that do not use SHBP, then the collective savings would amount to more than $100 million a year.

“Health coverage for public employees is an area in which substantial savings can be realized for taxpayers,” says Boxer. “Too many public entities in New Jersey are not taking basic steps to ensure that they are getting the best deal.”

The broker for Essex County, the largest of the audited units, is Conner Strong & Buckelew. The broker's executive chairman is Democratic power broker George Norcross III. Union contracts prevent some from switching to the state plan.