New Jersey Launches Health Insurance Marketplace as Challenge to ACA Looms

Despite questions if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will survive a Supreme Court challenge, the state has launched its health insurance marketplace, Get Covered New Jersey.

Residents will be able to browse health plans, compare prices and find out if they may qualify for financial help ahead of the ACA Open Enrollment Period that begins Nov. 1. Get Covered New Jersey replaces HealthCare.gov to enroll in Marketplace health insurance plans. Instead, Marketplace plans and financial help will only be available at getcovered.nj.gov.  

The change come as the Supreme Court will hear a case that could dismantle the ACA, one that Gov. Phil Murphy said would be “devastating (to) seniors who would lose access to medication, women to contraception and other healthcare. Kids up to their mid-20s who can now stay on their parents’ healthcare plans…it is a complete meltdown.”

A Meltdown

The governor chartercized it as a “myth” that there is something wrong with the ACA when in fact it has been a game changer increasing employment. 

“This has allowed state residents to get access to healthcare that they never had before, or in many cases to afford it at a level they could not before,” said Murphy at a press briefing Oct. 15. “Witness setting up our own exchange, witness that new subsidy that we’re charging that replaces the federal, driving most of the proceeds from that to folks who cannot currently and have not historically been able to afford healthcare, overwhelmingly in communities of color, that now can. It’s a meltdown.”

Financial Help

“We are proud of the steps we have taken to support the Affordable Care Act and push back against attacks on the landmark law by the Trump Administration,” he said.

The first-term Democratic governor said more financial help than ever before is available to eligible residents shopping on the state Marketplace as a result of new state subsidies signed into law.  

“Our administration has fought for improved access to quality affordable health coverage for residents based on the fundamental principle that healthcare is a right,” said Murphy. “The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need for all residents to have health coverage and there is no more important time than now for New Jersey to make the transition to its own health insurance Marketplace.”

New Subsidy

Residents shopping for health insurance will have access to the new state subsidy—called New Jersey Health Plan Savings—on top of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available to lower the cost of their health insurance. About eight in 10 consumers purchasing coverage on Get Covered New Jersey will qualify for assistance, according to state officials. 

New Jersey residents will qualify for the new state subsidies based on income. Individuals whose annual income is under 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) will qualify to get this financial help in addition to premium tax credits. The estimated average subsidy for an individual with an annual income up to 400% of the FPL ($51,040) is projected to be at least $578 a year, and at least $2,313 a year for a family of four with an annual income up to 400% FPL ($104,800). 

Lowest Premium

Because of the availability of the state subsidies, New Jersey will have the lowest net premium in 2021 for individuals with incomes under 400% FPL since the implementation of Healthcare.gov and availability of federal tax credits. The average net premium for 2021, for those eligible for financial help, is estimated at $117 a month, compared to $164 a month in 2020, and $148 a month in 2014. 

In addition to providing state subsidies and expanding the open enrollment period, the transition to the new state Marketplace allowed New Jersey to invest more in outreach and trained experts who will provide unbiased enrollment help to residents. 

Larger Investment

The state is investing $3.5 million in trained Navigators to assist residents, up from $1.1 million in 2020 and $400,000 under the federal government in 2019. This expanded outreach allows 16 local New Jersey organizations across the state to help residents enroll in coverage.  

Murphy said he was proud his administration is able to provide better access for residents to find an affordable healthcare plan that works for them and that works for their families. 

“Throughout the past nearly three years, we have worked hard to improve access to quality, affordable healthcare and coverage, and the past seven months have proven the importance of having healthcare, for sure,” said Murphy. “Our new exchange could not be coming online at a more important time.“

Daily Data

As of Oct. 20, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 222,193 with 1,036 new cases and 13 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,438. The state probable death is 1,789, bringing the overall total to 16,227.

For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 114 new cases, Bergen 103 new cases, Hudson 87 new cases, Passaic 67 new cases, Morris 60 new cases, Sussex seven new cases and Warren one new case.

State officials noted 11 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,906, followed by Bergen at 1,811, Hudson with 1,366, Passaic at 1,117, Morris at 688, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 242, Essex has 230, Hudson has 159, Morris at 144, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Oct. 15 was 3.4%. By region, the North has a rate of 3.6%, Central at 3.0% and the South at 3.5%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.13 from 1.14 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 781 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 395 in the North, 198 in the Central and 188 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 169 are in intensive care units and 69 on ventilators, while 55 patients were discharged.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 23,945, followed by Essex at 22,735, Hudson at 21,886, Middlesex at 21,152, Passaic at 20,089, Union at 18,949, Ocean at 16,173, Monmouth at 13,439, Camden at 10,946, Mercer at 9,005, Morris at 8,529, Burlington at 7,928, Somerset at 6,192, Gloucester at 5,240, Atlantic at 4,779, Cumberland at 3,924, Sussex at 1,628, Warren at 1,515, Hunterdon at 1,497, Salem at 1,146 and Cape May at 1,080.

Another 416 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 22 outbreaks involving 83 cases have been reported in nine of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 16 outbreaks involving 58 cases a week previous. For North Jersey, Bergen County has three confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Sussex County has one confirmed outbreak with two cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 162 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,963 of the cases, broken down between 2,883 residents and 2,080 staff. 

Cumulatively, 771 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,473 residents and 13,919 staff, for a total of 39,392 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,191 on Oct. 20. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,813 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths. 

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