REFUSAL TO EXPAND MEDICAID KILLED 15,000+, NEW STUDY FINDS

More than 20 U.S. state governments betrayed the health and well-being of their residents five years ago when they decided against expanding Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare. Now, thanks to a just published study, we have a good idea of the human cost: nearly 16,000 deaths over the four-year period from January 2014, when the expansion initially took effect, through the end of 2017.

The study, released on July 21, looked at what would have occurred if Medicaid had been expanded nationwide in 2014. Based on the differences in mortality between states that expanded and those that didn’t, the study found that 15,600 deaths in the non-expansion states would have been prevented if those states too had expanded Medicaid. Continue reading REFUSAL TO EXPAND MEDICAID KILLED 15,000+, NEW STUDY FINDS

NJ WILL HAVE OWN HEALTH EXCHANGE

New Jersey took a major step forward in protecting health care coverage for state residents on June 28, when Governor Phil Murphy signed a law authorizing the creation of New Jersey’s own health exchange.

Only 11 states, including New York and California, plus the District of Columbia, currently have their own exchanges, which are used by individuals and small employers to purchase government regulated and standardized health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. Continue reading NJ WILL HAVE OWN HEALTH EXCHANGE

SUCCESS IN NJ PUSHBACK ON EFFORTS TO DESTROY ACA

Here is a bit of great news I am happy to share.

New Jersey, whose individual health insurance market was one of the nation’s most expensive a few years ago will be one of the cheapest in 2019, according to a recent report from New Jersey Policy Perspective.  We have fallen from paying the ninth highest premiums in 2014 to 47th highest in 2019.  Indiana ($339), Massachusetts ($332) and Minnesota ($326) will be the only states paying less than New Jersey’s $352 per month.

That compares with a national average of $477 and neighboring state averages of  $684, $569, and $484, in Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania, respectively.

The numbers are from Kaiser Family Foundation data tracking premium costs in every state from 2014 to 2019. During that period, New Jersey premiums rose from $323 in 2014 to a high of $413 last year.

For a family of four opting for the least costly silver plan, that translates to an annual savings of $3,264 (from $15,132 down to $11,868). Comparable figures for a 60 year old are a $1,944 drop (from $10,152 to $8,208) and for a 27 year old, a $792 decrease (from  $3,912 to $3,120).

The price drop is all the more surprising and welcome in the face of ongoing efforts by the Trump Administration and the GOP-led Congress to dismantle and undermine the Affordable Care Act. Their efforts have included repeal of the individual mandate, discontinuation of certain subsidies, shortened enrollment periods, and other actions that have created uncertainty in the market that has itself driven up the cost of policies.

New Jersey has pushed back in various ways, including enacting laws that created a state mandate and established a reinsurance program and the launch of a Get Covered campaign. It is working!

We are now more than halfway through the sign-up period which began on November 1 and ends December 15. If you obtain your healthcare through the individual market, DO NOT DELAY. And make sure others do not either, by spreading the word.

Read the New Jersey Policy Perspective article on the falling premiums here.

HEALTH CARE IS AT STAKE THIS ELECTION DAY

As we approach the November 6 election date, here is something to help you focus on what is at stake.

If Republican majorities survive in both houses of Congress, there is a real possibility  that they will repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA aka Obamacare). The last major effort at repeal fell short because of a dramatic “no” vote from Senator John McCain, whose death in August means he is no longer around to save the day

Republicans would likely be emboldened to try again if they hold onto power in one or both houses of Congress and if they succeed, it would strip health care from an estimated 800,000 New Jersey residents, according to a report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank focused on issues that impact this state.

Most of those would be the roughly half million people who benefited from New Jersey’s expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, with the rest consisting of those who bought policies on the individual market.

In addition, the elimination of the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions would impact more than 3.8 million people, about 43% of New Jersey residents, says the report.

And the nearly 700,000 people who still lack health insurance would probably lose any hope of obtaining it.

Further, proposed cutbacks in Medicare to pay for last year’s tax cuts would put health coverage at risk for 1.5 million more New Jerseyans.

Read the report and get out there next Tuesday to protect health care!

LEGISLATION WOULD PROTECT PATIENTS FROM DEBT COLLECTORS

New Jersey residents faced with medical bills they cannot afford to pay would obtain some respite under newly proposed legislation.

A-4335, would require  medical providers to wait at least 90 days after the initial billing date before they sic a debt collector or lawyer on a patient.

Continue reading LEGISLATION WOULD PROTECT PATIENTS FROM DEBT COLLECTORS

ACA ENROLLMENT FALLS IN NEW JERSEY, NEW LAWS SHOULD HELP

Efforts by the Trump Administration and the GOP majority in Washington to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare,” are, unfortunately, having an impact that is driving down the number of people with individual health insurance policies in New Jersey.

According to a June 20 press release from the NJ Department of Banking & Insurance, health insurance enrollment was down more than 10 per cent for the first quarter of 2018, compared to a year earlier. The total number of state residents signed up for individual (non-employer, non-government) health plans was 328,761, down from 368,619 for the first quarter of 2017.

In other words, almost 40,000 fewer people have health coverage. Continue reading ACA ENROLLMENT FALLS IN NEW JERSEY, NEW LAWS SHOULD HELP

MURPHY SIGNS LAW TO END SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS

Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law landmark legislation that will help keep health care affordable for New Jersey residents by protecting them from surprise medical bills for out-of-network health care.

At least with state-regulated health insurance  plans covered by the plan, consumers will no longer have to pay any more than they would for in-network care unless they are informed of those added costs in advance and consent to pay them.  And added out-of-network charges could never be imposed for receiving needed medical care in an emergency situation. Consumers would remain free to obtain care from out-of-network providers but those bills would no longer come as a surprise.

Other insurance plans that fall under federal law and are thus not subject to regulation by the state, will be able to opt into the law, which takes effect 90 days from today.

The legislation, A-2039, is known as the Out-of-Network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act, and the name aptly describes what it does.

For more detail, read my earlier blog posts.  HERE and HERE.

Continue reading MURPHY SIGNS LAW TO END SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS