Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Health Care Act Slashes Percentage in N.J. with No Insurance, Study Says

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Health Care Act Slashes Percentage in N.J. with No Insurance, Study Says

Article excerpt

The number of people with health insurance in New Jersey climbed an estimated 520,000 during the first half of the year, as enrollment surged at the deadline last spring to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act or face a penalty, a study released Friday found.

The percentage of uninsured in the state reached historic lows as it was cut nearly in half -- to 11.5 percent -- from 21.2 percent in September 2013, according to survey data by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"It shows that health reforms are working as intended," said Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy and a co-author of the report.

The report on New Jersey is based on a quarterly survey developed by the Urban Institute, a non-profit policy research group, to monitor the effect of the Affordable Care Act nationally. Additional sampling is done in a select group of states, including New Jersey. The survey, designed to be representative of the state as a whole, included 400 people and was conducted in June.

Federal subsidies for those with lower incomes to purchase coverage were key to the enrollment growth, Cantor said. The federal government reported in May that 84 percent of those who purchased coverage on the federal marketplace for New Jersey received financial assistance to do so.

Not since Medicaid was established in the 1960s "have we seen such a major decline in the uninsured population," said Katherine Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and co-author of the report. For safety-net hospitals, new insurance coverage for previously uninsured patients who relied on charity care means a significant increase in revenues, she said.

The results are in line with national trends that have shown an increase in insurance coverage among adults.

Federal data released in May showed that 161,775 people in New Jersey had signed up for coverage through the federal insurance marketplace by mid-April, when the open enrollment period concluded. …

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