March 12, 2014 | Number of The Day
Number of New Jerseyans who signed up for health insurance via the federal marketplace in February

New Jersey is not meeting expectations when it comes to the number of people who are signing up for health insurance via the federal health insurance marketplace, since only 19,565 purchased insurance through the exchange in February. This was a slight drop from the previous month’s 20,054. It brings the total to 74,370 individuals and families. The goal for 2014 is 113,000 but there is still a month left to apply.

According to Ray Castro, senior policy analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective, “there must be a major surge in March if the goal is to be achieved. It is likely that there will be a jump in enrollment for that month because it is the deadline that must be met to avoid a penalty, but it is unclear if the jump will be sufficient to reach the goal.”

Advocates of the Affordable Care Act are struggling to get people signed up to meet the goal because of the lack of marketing of the program. The Christie administration has chosen not to publicize the program widely and turned down federal money that would have allowed them to do so.

The expansion of Medicaid, however, has been a success. About 123,000 people have signed up for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through the exchange.

Nationally, 4.24 million plans have been purchased through the marketplace or state-run exchanges and 4.38 million others have been found eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.

Castro said that NJ, like the rest of the nation, needs to do a better job attracting males and young adults to the health plans. However, he noted that New Jersey is outpacing the rest of the country when it comes to buying premium plans — those that have a higher initial cost but lower deductibles or cost sharing. That’s a good thing, he said, “because it will encourage these consumers to seek the treatment they need.”

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