Asbury Park Press

Obamacare Enrollment In NJ Down Slightly From Last Year

Asbury Park Press — December 21, 2017

By Michael L. Diamond

New Jerseyans with Obamacare continued to sign up at a steady pace for 2018, the government said Thursday, despite unenthusiastic support from the Trump Administration.

Nearly 280,000 residents enrolled in the health insurance program. By comparison, about 295,000 signed up last year, a drop of about 5 percent, according to data from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"That would be a very good showing based on the reduction in enrollment assistance and outreach," said Maura Collinsgru, health care director for New Jersey Citizen Action, a consumer group.

Individuals who aren't insured by their employer or Medicare had until Dec. 15 to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace that was established by the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

This year's signup period came with significant hurdles. Premiums in New Jersey rose by double-digits in part, insurers said, because the Trump Administration took steps to dismantle the law.

Among them: It stopped enforcing the mandate that required everyone to have insurance or pay a penalty; it didn't reimburse insurers for financial help they provided low-income consumers; it cut its marketing budget; and it shortened the enrollment period.

Obamacare opponents got a major win this week as well. The tax bill approved by Congress includes a provision that removes the health care mandate, making it unclear whether consumers will choose to keep their plans once their bills arrive.

Supporters worry that healthy consumers will walk away, leaving only sick consumers in the marketplace and causing insurance rates to rise again.

But Collinsgru said 80 percent of consumers will continue to receive subsidies.

"The concern right now is they just repealed the individual mandate," she said. "Will people follow through and make those premium payments? My hope is, yes they will."

Top Top | NJCA in the News | NJCA Homepage