Number of Uninsured New Jerseyans Rose Dramatically in the Last Decade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2013
Contact: Jon Whiten, or 609-393-1145 ext. 15

Number of Uninsured New Jerseyans Rose Dramatically in the Last Decade
Health Care Reform Will Help Reverse the Trend

If there were any remaining doubts about the need for health care reform in New Jersey they should be dispelled by today’s release of the US Census Current Population Survey, which shows a dramatic increase in the uninsured in the state. The number of uninsured below age 65 increased to 1.3 million in 2011-2012, up from 865,000 in 1999-2000. That 45 percent increase is much higher than the national increase of 29 percent, and it caused the uninsurance rate in New Jersey to jump to a staggering 16.8 percent.

The ranks of the uninsured have grown mainly because employer-based insurance has decreased. From 1999-2000 to 2011-2012, the number of New Jersyans with such health coverage decreased by 652,000 to 4.9 million – a drop of 12 percent. This shift mainly affects adults, since most children are eligible for NJ FamilyCare. Those who oppose the new health law claim that employers are dropping coverage because of the law – but the Census data show that employers were doing this long before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

“Fewer and fewer employers offer insurance, and when hard-working New Jerseyans lose job-based coverage, most have nowhere else to turn,” says New Jersey Policy Perspective senior policy analyst Raymond Castro. “This will change dramatically starting in 2014, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”

The success of NJ FamilyCare shows the potential for the new health law, which mainly helps uninsured adults afford quality health coverage. Two major provisions of the Affordable Care Act will dramatically reduce the number of uninsured New Jerseyans starting in 2014.

First, 234,000 New Jerseyans are expected to gain health insurance coverage through the state’s acceptance of federal funds to expand Medicaid. They will include adults without children who will be newly eligible, as well as parents and children who are currently eligible and likely to enroll as a result of outreach efforts that have already begun under the new health law. They all can apply online through the new federal health insurance Marketplace or they can go to their County Welfare Agency for help filling out the application.

New Jerseyans who can’t get affordable health insurance through their jobs but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid can sign up for coverage for 2014 through the Marketplace. Many people will be eligible for new federal subsidies to help them pay their premiums and reduce their out-of-pocket health costs; 362,000 New Jerseyans are expected to gain coverage through the Marketplace.

“Health reform means that about more 600,000 New Jerseyans will have the security and peace of mind that comes with quality, affordable health insurance,” says Castro. “That’s good for our state’s families, businesses, communities and economy.”

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