As insurance deadline near in N.J., organizers mobilize to help with sign-ups

The open enrollment period to get in the health exchange marketplace in New Jersey ends March 31, and advocates are making efforts to get more residents insurance coverage.

About 900,000 uninsured New Jersey residents are eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. So far, only about 99,000 have signed up for it.

The number of people they can enroll is affected by the time it takes to complete the process, said Robin Stockton of the Center for Family Services Navigator Project.

“In spite of the resources that we have, we’re finding that appointments really do take up to two hours per enrollment,” Stockton said. “Many consumers, because the educational piece is so necessary, need multiple appointments.”

The grassroots groups involved in outreach efforts say that many people still don’t understand what Obamacare means and aren’t aware they might be eligible for subsides to help with the costs of insurance.

One of the young people covered under their parents’ insurance plan, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, is Andrew Barnett who is working with the group Organizing for Action.

“Without it, I’d be at risk of going without treatment or my family going bankrupt if I ever developed a serious illness,” he said. “We’re doing this because there are millions of people like me.”

Outreach groups expect sign-ups will increase as the end of the month deadline gets closer.

Those who don’t have insurance by March 31 will be required to pay a penalty on next year’s tax return.

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