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Health insurance premiums are rising by double digits for thousands of Massachusetts retailers and their employees.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts, a trade group, said a survey of its members found that insurance rates are jumping by an average of 11 percent. The increases will kick in April 1, when many retailers and other small businesses renew their health insurance coverage.

The increase follows two straight years of double-digit rate increases.

The increases are well above the inflation rate and the state’s goal of keeping overall health spending increases to 3.6 percent a year. Jon Hurst, president of the retailers association, called rising health care costs “the single largest contributor to stagnant job growth for small businesses.”

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“Small business health insurance coverage in Massachusetts is now best described as a tax, rather than insurance,” Hurst said in a statement.

The association has 3,500 members, many of them small mom-and-pop shops with just a handful of employees.

Health insurance costs have been rising as more people use medical services and costly drugs, and insurers raise prices to cover their costs of complying with the federal Affordable Care Act.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.