Monday is the last day to sign up for health insurance coverage through Get Covered New Jersey, the state-run marketplace for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. It is the only place to purchase insurance with state and federal subsidies.
After the open enrollment period ends, consumers who do not have coverage through an employer or government program will be eligible to buy a marketplace plan only after a major life event, such as a move, the birth of a child or the loss of other health coverage.
So far, more people have enrolled for 2022 coverage in New Jersey than in any year since 2014, when the so-called Obamacare health plans became available. In November and December, 307,000 New Jersey residents signed up, an increase of 21% from the 2021 enrollment year.
As of Monday the number of people enrolled in Obamacare plans nationwide had also jumped by 17%, with five states including New Jersey and the District of Columbia still open for enrollment through Jan. 31.
“New Jersey has made health care access a priority from the start of the Murphy administration,” said Marlene Caride, commissioner of the state Department of Banking and Insurance. “There is no doubt that our work is paying off.”
Several factors helped to keep the price of health coverage in check and expand eligibility for New Jersey residents. The American Rescue Plan removed the income cap for people to receive financial assistance. No one who purchases coverage on the marketplace is to pay more than 8.5% of their income, based on a benchmark plan. The balance of the premium is paid through federal tax credits.
As a result of the increase in federal subsidies, New Jersey was able to extend the state's subsidies to additional enrollees. That allowed people with incomes up to six times the federal poverty level — instead of four times the federal poverty level, which was the case last year — to buy coverage on the exchange. The income limit for an individual is now $77,280, and for a family of four it's $159,000. That single step brought in 26,000 new enrollees.
New Jersey also increased its outreach to consumers to help them sign up. The majority of people receiving financial help can purchase coverage for $10 a month or less, the state insurance department said.
And the open enrollment period through the state exchange is three months long, twice the length compared with some previous years.
The increase in New Jersey's sign-ups occurred as about 33,000 people left Obamacare plans because they qualified for the state Medicaid program, NJFamilyCare, which covers lower income residents.
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For 2022, consumers had an additional insurer to choose from. Ambetter from WellCare of New Jersey joined the marketplace, with coverage available in Essex, Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Union, Hudson, Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Burlington, Ocean, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland and Atlantic counties.
Three other companies — Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, AmeriHealth and Oscar — continue to offer coverage through Get Covered New Jersey.
Four out of five people who enrolled purchased a silver plan, which generally covers 70% of health care costs.
This is the second year of operation for GetCovered.NJ.gov. State law requires people who don’t have coverage through an employer, Medicaid, Medicare or other programs to get coverage or pay a penalty in their state income taxes.
Lindy Washburn is a senior health care reporter for NorthJersey.com. To keep up-to-date about how changes in health care affect you and your family, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Monday is last day for Affordable Care Act signups in NJ