Consumer Groups Scramble To Help Residents With Health Insurance Open Enrollment

NJBIZ — October 30, 2017

By Vince Calio

CoverNJ, a coalition of consumer advocates, providers, insurance companies and social service groups teamed with RWJBarnabas Health to assist and encourage residents to take advantage of open enrollment for health insurance plans in 2018.

Additionally, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) will hold an outreach event at Sage Eldercare in Summit on Nov. 16 to offer residents a chance to review their Medicare coverage in 2018.

CoverNJ is holding its outreach event Monday at RWJBarnabas Health at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospitals in Somerset, New Brunswick and Carteret, with coalition members, community representatives and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6).

The efforts are in response, in part, to the federal government's move earlier this year to reduce funding for the marketing and promotion of the Affordable Care Act by 90 percent. Federal funding for that effort is now just $10 million, and the period in which consumers could enroll in health care plans under the ACA has been cut to six weeks from 12 weeks. Open enrollment will take place between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15.

"In response to the recent federal cuts to ACA funding and outreach, groups from all across the state have come together to ensure New Jerseyans have the information and resources they need to get enrolled," said Maura Collingsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action, in a press release. "Consumers need to know they can still get financial assistance as in years past if they qualify and free enrollment assistance to help select the plan that is right for them."

CoverNJ said in an announcement that it is seeking to inform residents that:

The main health insurance carriers that individuals can choose from are: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New JErsey, AmeriHealth NJ, Aetna and now Oscar. The companies offer a total of 28 different health plan options, at four different coverage levels (Gold, Silver, Bronze, Catastrophic) available on the online marketplace this open enrollment period.

"It is recommended that you obtain advice and guidance from someone who is not affiliated with a particular health care insurance company so that you can compare plans without any bias. Personalized Medicare counseling is available, free of charge, from SHIP counselors, such as those who volunteer their time at SAGE," said Elyse Drucker, Union County SHIP Coordinator, in a prepared statement.

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