NJ consumers have more insurance choices on federal exchange

 Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, regional director of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, briefs members of the New Jersey Senate Health Exchange Task Force. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, regional director of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, briefs members of the New Jersey Senate Health Exchange Task Force. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

At its initial meeting,  a legislative task force monitoring the federal health exchange in New Jersey learned that five insurers now are offering a total of more than 50 plans in the state.

Last year, just three issuers participated.

“We’re optimistic that with more plans there will be more competition and therefore more affordable options. There are several zero-deductible plans, which is exciting for many consumers,” reported Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to the New Jersey Senate Health Exchange Task Force Monday.

 

Ray Castro with New Jersey Policy Perspective said it’s important for consumers to shop for coverage during the open enrollment period that ends Feb. 15.

“We’re seeing a lot of variation in costs but, on average, it’s about the same level as it was last year, which is pretty amazing because usually we’re used to double-digit increases in premiums,” he said. “We’re not seeing that this year.”

But Christine Stearns with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association said buying in the insurance marketplace is still a complex process.

“It’s just not getting any easier or less expensive. New Jersey families are still having as hard time,” she said.

Most of the 161,000 New Jersey residents who used the exchange to purchase heath insurance last year will be automatically enrolled in a similar plan.

Shopping for coverage on the federal health insurance exchange in New Jersey is easier this year because new technology on the HealthCare.gov website makes it easier to see what plans are available, said Cornell-Bechelli.

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