Health insurance options diminish in N.J. Obamacare exchange

(Photo courtesy of HealthCare.gov)

(Photo courtesy of HealthCare.gov)

Only two insurance companies will offer coverage next year in New Jersey’s health exchange marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act.

Health Republic is the third company to announce it’s pulling out of the exchange. That leavesHorizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and AmeriHealth as the available options.

Officials with Health Republic of New Jersey said the insurance co-op has been under “considerable financial strain” due to requirements under the ACA’s risk-adjustment mandate.

Ray Castro with New Jersey Policy Perspective said it represents a troubling development.

“Consumers in New Jersey are going to have far fewer choices then they had before in selecting their health care plans,” he said Tuesday. “And it’s also going to make it more likely that insurance is going to cost even more. As a result of less competition, it’s possible that there’s going to be an increase in premiums in the future.”

More than 80 percent of the 250,000 New Jersey residents who use the exchange to obtain their health insurance get federal subsidies to help them afford it, he added.

“Even if there’s an increase in cost, in premiums, as long as people chose the silver plan, which is sort of the moderate plan, they are protected,” Castro said. “But if they want to get richer plans … then it’s going to become more costly.”

The government needs to do more to support the plans so consumers have as much choice as possible, he said.

“We need to make New Jersey more competitive, and we can only do that by changing some of our state laws that have a number of loopholes that place insurers at a disadvantage,” he said.

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