Year two of the Affordable Care Act and here are the national numbers for the first month. More than 4 million Americans signed up for the first time or actively re-enrolled. That’s fewer than last year’s opening, but 87 percent are eligible for financial aid to lower the cost of premiums and that’s more than last year. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region II Executive Officer Dennis Gonzalez told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that so far more than 105,000 New Jerseyans have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act in the first month of the enrollment period.
Gonzalez said that he is very pleased with the sign-up numbers in New Jersey for the first month. He said, “We are a little bit over 105,000. Compare that to the first enrollment period earlier this year, we enrolled over 160,000. So we are at about 65 percent of where we were last year and this is just after the first month. So we’re very happy.”
According to Gonzalez, about 82 percent of New Jersey enrollees were eligible for financial assistance. He said that is similar to the national average which was about 84 percent and it is the same percentage as the last enrollment period.
Right before this enrollment period opened on Nov. 15, there were dire warnings about how there were more providers but the costs were going to be higher. Gonzalez said that for some consumers the costs were higher and those who enrolled last year may have had an increase in their premium. He said what he is telling those consumers to do is go back into the marketplace and shop around because they might be able to find a plan that is similar to what they have now but at a much lower cost. He said that he is pleased that people have been able to go back into the marketplace and shop around and have additional options in New Jersey this year.
There are two additional health insurance carriers in New Jersey and Gonzalez said that means that there are more than 50 plans for consumers to choose from. He said that helped lower the cost for many consumers.
This enrollment period is open until Feb. 15. When asked if HHS will meet its goals, Gonzalez said, “I think so. I think we are going to do just as well this year as we did the first open enrollment period. We are very optimistic about the work that we are doing in New Jersey thanks to our partners. We have a number of great partners all throughout the state who are making this possible in New Jersey so we are very, very happy.”
While the open enrollment period lasts until Feb. 15, Gonzalez said that Jan. 15 is the deadline for those who want coverage starting Feb. 1.
“The ultimate goal is for every person in New Jersey, as well as throughout the whole country, to have insurance who couldn’t otherwise have insurance, to have insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Whether or not we are going to meet that goal this year or next year, the important thing is that we are trying to reach as many consumers as possible,” said Gonzalez.