Source: New Jersey Patch
Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation that will increase affordability and expand access to health care, according to officials.
The bill creates state-level subsidies to lower the cost of health insurance for residents purchasing coverage on the Marketplace this fall and restores a provision in the Affordable Care Act. The legislation establishes the New Jersey Health Insurer Assessment (HIA), which is a continuation of a federal assessment on health insurance companies that will sunset at the end of this year.
It will allow the state to provide state-level subsidies, in addition to federal subsidies that are available, for the majority of consumers purchasing insurance on the State-Based Marketplace when the ACA open enrollment period which begins this November 1.
The subsidy program will be available to New Jerseyans with annual income up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which allows an individual earning up to $51,040, and a family of four earning up to $104,800, to qualify for the subsidy program. The estimated average subsidy for an individual would be at least $564 a year, and at least $2,256 a year for a family of four. Actual subsidy amounts will be based on an actuarial simulation study being conducted by the Department of Banking and Insurance in order to maximize the benefit for New Jerseyans.
The law sets the state HIA rate at 2.5 percent of net written premiums and applies it to certain fully insured health insurance markets. The assessment is expected to bring in more than $200 million in revenue starting in calendar year 2021.
Under the law, this revenue can only be used to increase affordability in the individual market and providing greater access to the uninsured through a number of means including subsidies, reinsurance, and other efforts. An estimated $77 million will be dedicated to the reinsurance program to address high cost claims and lower premium costs in the individual market.
“This bill will help to ensure that people are able to afford health insurance during this critical time when a global disease is not only threatening their health, but their financial security in unimaginable ways,” said Senator Joe Vitale, Chair of the stat senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Of the many fissures exposed by COVID-19, the deficiencies in a system that relies on employer-based coverage is one that can’t be ignored. These subsidies could not come at a more critical time, in the midst of a pandemic, when health insurance is more vital than ever.”
Murphy’s administration has taken numerous actions to improve access to health coverage, including the creation of a reinsurance program, instituting the shared responsibility requirement, and establishing a state-based exchange, among others. These actions have lowered insurance rates in the individual market, and attempted to set the foundation for improved health care outcomes in New Jersey.