Aiming to ensure more New Jersey residents have access to health insurance, Assembly Democrats Anthony Verrelli, Angela McKnight and John McKeon sponsor a bill to establish the New Jersey Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program, which would provide uninsured residents with enrollment assistance. The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee advanced the legislation on Thursday.
Under the bill (A-674), the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) would establish a program to help improve access to healthcare and reduce insurance costs for New Jersey residents by maximizing health insurance enrollment throughout the State. DOBI would utilize a State-based reporting system to gather information about the health insurance status of residents using their tax returns and approved eFile vendors.
DOBI would identify uninsured residents and determine or assess whether they are interested in obtaining minimum essential coverage and if they are eligible for insurance affordability assistance. Those who qualify for affordability assistance and are interested in obtaining insurance would receive assistance enrolling in a plan. If an uninsured resident does not qualify for the State Medicaid program or the NJ FamilyCare Program, DOBI would look into whether the individual qualifies for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions.
The bill would require the Department of Banking and Insurance to develop data privacy and security safeguards to protect the information gathered under the program.
Upon committee approval of the bill, Assembly sponsors Verrelli (D-Hunterdon, Mercer), McKnight (D-Hudson) and McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) issued the following joint statement:
“Without health insurance, individuals may not be able to access the medical services or prescription drugs they need, and an unanticipated accident or illness could seriously impact one’s financial security, making it critical to ensure qualified individuals are able to enroll in the insurance programs available to them.
“With this program, we can reach out to more of the State’s uninsured residents to provide them with valuable information and the assistance they need to obtain health insurance.
“This program has the potential to make a huge difference in residents’ lives not only by expanding access to healthcare, but also by lowering premiums for everyone as a result of greater enrollment.”