WNYC

New York Vs. New Jersey: A Tale Of Two Health Exchanges

WNYC News — November 1, 2017

By Mary Harris

Maura Collinsgru has worked in health care policy for decades, but joined New Jersey Citizen Action just as the Affordable Care Act was rolling out five years ago. She has gotten used to being scrappy: Governor Chris Christie turned down federal funding to advertise the health care exchanges, so advocates like Collinsgru learned to get the word out their own way. But this year, she said, she is "doubly challenged."

That's because the amount of time New Jersey residents have to sign up for insurance on the exchange has been cut in half. Open enrollment is now just six weeks long, from November 1 through December 15. New Jersey also lost 60 percent of the its funding for so-called healthcare navigators — meaning nearly 100 experts who could help residents pick health plans won't be working, Collinsgru said. One group, the Oranges ACA Navigators Project, has shut down completely.

New York operates its own state health care marketplace, New York State of Health, and is keeping its enrollment period three months long. The state also funds its own health care navigators, insulating them from changes to the federal exchange.

No matter which state you live in, advocates recommend shopping for insurance early, because before you know it, you'll be out of time.

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