HHS Regional Director: 360,000 New Jerseyans Have Health Insurance Through Affordable Care Act

More than 42,000 New Jersey residents will get refunds from their health insurers this summer. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Regional Director Dennis Gonzalez told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that about 360,000 people in New Jersey who were previously uninsured now have health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.

Gonzalez said that HHS wants to enroll more people in New Jersey in Obamacare but he said the state did very well in the first enrollment period. More than 160,000 people were enrolled in the Garden State, which far exceeded their expectations. He said there are still a lot of people who are uninsured, so HHS has a lot of work ahead of them, but he is pleased with what has been accomplished so far.

He said that the 160,000 people enrolled is just the marketplace. He said that the Medicaid expansion numbers are close to 200,000 people and all together there have been about 360,000 people in New Jersey who previously did not have insurance but they now have it because of the Affordable Care Act.

Gonzalez said that the next enrollment period starts Nov. 15. Right now, it is the special enrollment period.

Gonzalez said that states were given the option of choosing to either set up their own marketplace or let the HSS run it and New Jersey chose to let HHS do it and they have been doing the work. He said that the consumers don’t see any difference, whether they live in New York, which is state based, or New Jersey, which is not. He said that the difference is seen on his level where HHS has to run it in New Jersey.

According to Gonzalez, New Jerseyans shouldn’t worry about their premium tax credit.

“Consumers in New Jersey who currently receive the premium tax credit or the subsidy need not worry about these court rulings. The fact is that the premium tax credit, the subsidy, is available and will continue to be available to New Jersey consumers,” said Gonzalez.

When asked what the biggest challenge is going forward, Gonzalez said that it is educating the public that the marketplace provides them with affordable, quality health care and that they should enroll. He said that part of the challenge is the misinformation that is out there about the Affordable Care Act. He said that is why HHS needs to go out along with their partners and educate the public and consumers, to tell them that it is a good program. He said that HHS did that during the last enrollment period and they look forward to doing it again during the upcoming enrollment period.

Gonzalez said that individuals that had health insurance coverage as of March 31 and since have lost it — whether it is because they lost their job or were married and got divorced or other circumstances — are able to enroll during the special enrollment period.