Even more of your pay will be taken out of your checks come 2020, if you receive health benefits through your employer.

Based on the responses of 83 employers in New Jersey, including 66 with at least 500 employees, employer-sponsored health benefit costs are expected to increase next year by 3.2% for Garden State workers, according to a national survey by employee-benefits consulting firm Mercer.

The Princeton-based group found the spike would be even higher if companies didn't make some changes to their current plan.

Looking at larger employers specifically, respondents estimated benefit costs would rise by 5.1% next year without any changes. But thanks to plan-design changes, or a switch of vendors, they can hold the cost increase to 2.7%.

"Healthcare costs will continue to increase in the future. It's just a question of how much it will increase, not whether or not costs will increase," said John Coleman, a consultant at Mercer.

On average in 2019, active employees in New Jersey saw their health benefit costs rise by 3.8%, and put out $16,345 over the course of a year, the survey shows. That dollar amount is 25% greater than the $13,046 average for all employers nationwide.

Coleman said a good portion of the increase in healthcare costs, both in New Jersey and nationwide, is coming from a class of medications known as specialty pharmacy. These biological medications cost thousands of dollars per user per year, but target less than 4% of the overall population, Coleman said.

"In the next few years, specialty Rx, specialty pharmacy, is expected to make up roughly 50$ of an employer's pharmacy costs," he said.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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