New Jersey health insurance exchange
Limited competition means New Jersey premiums higher than average
By Louise Norris
November 16, 2013
By the first week in November, 23,000 applications had been submitted in the New Jersey exchange, to cover a total of about 42,000 residents. But only 741 of the applicants had selected a plan and finalized their enrollment. Technical problems at Healthcare.gov could be causing applicants to be unable to complete their enrollment, or applicants may just be taking their time to compare the options available before making a plan selection. It’s expected that many of the pending applications will be completed in advance of the December 23 enrollment deadline for a January 1 effective date.
Of the 42,000 people who would be covered by the applications submitted so far, about 17,000 will be eligible for Medicaid, since New Jersey has expanded its Medicaid program. Another 8,000 will be eligible for premium tax credits to lower the cost of their health insurance, and the rest – about 40% of the total – will be paying full price for their coverage.
The New Jersey Assembly passed two bills authorizing a state-run exchange in 2012, but both were vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. Those vetoes left the federal government to operate the health insurance marketplace in New Jersey.
Three health insurers are offering 29 options for individuals and families in New Jersey: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, AmeriHealth New Jersey and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey. Health Republic is a new consumer oriented and operated plan, or co-op, created under a provision of the ACA. Aetna initially intended to participate, but dropped out in September.
This relatively low level of competition is one of the reasons given for the higher-than-average premiums in New Jersey. According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in New Jersey is $332, compared to a national average of $249 a month.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about 901,000 New Jersey residents are uninsured and eligible to use the health insurance marketplace to purchase insurance. HHS also estimates that about 790,000 people in New Jersey will be eligible for subsidies to purchase insurance or will qualify for coverage through the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which was authorized by the New Jersey Assembly and signed into law by Christie.
New Jersey health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: New Jersey
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of New Jersey’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
New Jersey Health Insurance Exchange
An overview of health exchange issues from the consumer advocacy group New Jersey Citizen Action.
Principles for Establishing a Pro-Consumer NJ Health Insurance Exchange (PDF)
From NJ For Health Care