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States like New Jersey have been getting a lot of attention ever since the conception of Obamacare health insurance marketplaces. There are multiple reasons for this, primarily because New Jersey, with approximately 900,000 uninsured residents, decided to utilize the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) and not to build its own exchange. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the state.

What’s on Track?

The FFM is on track to be live on October 1. There were concerns that the FFM wouldn’t be ready in time but those fears were allayed by a recent announcement by Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary. Since New Jersey has a higher percentage of uninsured residents than the national average, extra effort is being put in by the U.S. Health and Human Services office to alleviate any fears related to the implementation.

What’s in Progress?

Navigators

To ensure that all eligible New Jerseyans are aware of the marketplace and know how to effectively enroll in the system, the federal government has issued several grants to be used for the hiring and training for navigators. The following organizations received navigator grants:

•    The Center For Family Services Inc.: $677,797 to enroll people in Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, Salem, Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.

•    The Urban League of Hudson County: $565,000 for a health insurance enrollment program in partnership with the urban leagues of Bergen, Morris and Union.

•    Public Health Solutions of New York City: $400,583 to partner with New Jersey community organizations in Hudson and Essex counties.

•    Wendy Sykes/Orange ACA Navigator Project: $239,810 to integrate several existing community-based systems to help enroll uninsured individuals and small businesses.

•    FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties Inc.: $137,217 to connect uninsured and underinsured individuals with information about their health insurance.

Available Plans

Although the exchange will go live on its scheduled date, the plans and applicable premium rates will not be made public until the end of this month. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and AmeriHealth New Jersey will be participating in the marketplace and have submitted their proposals. Until the rates are published, New Jerseyans will not be able to compare FFM premium rates to existing premiums. In light of this unavailability of information, several experts are concerned that the proposed rates might be too high due to lack of competition, forcing government to review the plans stringently for preventing residents from having to pay higher out of pocket costs.

The good news is that residents are looking for information on FFM, they won’t have to travel far. In addition to the organizations listed above, New Jerseyans will be able to find information and HIE consulting on the exchange at their local Rite-Aid. Independent insurance agents will be at housed at Rite Aid stores across the country, including several in New Jersey.

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