N.J. health insurance enrollment down 11% in Q1, state says

By Eric Strauss
Trenton | Jun 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

The state Department of Banking and Insurance said Wednesday that health insurance enrollment in New Jersey’s individual market was down nearly 11 percent in the first quarter of 2018 when compared with the first quarter of 2017.

DOBI Commissioner Marlene Caride blamed the decline on numerous actions taken at the federal level aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

“Federal actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act, including the failure to fund cost sharing reduction payments and the elimination of the individual mandate, created enormous uncertainty in the market and had a significant negative effect on health insurance enrollment in New Jersey,” she said in a prepared statement. “This is troubling, because it means fewer New Jerseyans have access to care and the protections they were afforded under the landmark federal law.”

The quarterly decline represented the first time since the ACA took effect in 2014 that the number of New Jersey residents enrolled in health plans during the first quarter — which includes those who enrolled or re-enrolled during open enrollment — was down from the year earlier, DOBI said.

The total number of Garden State residents enrolled for Q1 was 328,761, compared with 368,619 for Q1 2017, a decline of 10.8 percent. The numbers had risen from 359,173 in Q1 2016 and 326,528 in Q1 2015.

The dropoff was more noticeable in residents who got insurance off-marketplace, with those numbers down 14 percent, compared with marketplace numbers, which were down 9.6 percent.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed two health care bills into law, which create an individual mandate in January 2019 and allow for creation of a reinsurance program. Experts have said the mandate is likely to create more stability in the marketplace.

“Under the leadership of Gov. Murphy, New Jersey is working to stabilize the market, to reduce premiums and to increase enrollment in health coverage in the state,” Caride said. “The department is committed to its work to ensure that New Jersey residents have access to quality and affordable coverage.”

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Eric Strauss | estrauss@roi-nj.com | acerimrat