HEALTH

Could confusion over ACA lead to lower enrollment?

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Robin Dickerson works in a hospital and has the option to get insurance through her office, but it’s expensive. With her family budget and income, Dickerson says it would just be too tight.

“I work, but I don’t make ends meet enough to pay for insurance so I need something that’s affordable,” she said. “You have to cut back on your budget, your monthly budget, your bills, food, everything, savings.”

Right now in New Jersey, around 244,000 people are signed up for Obamacare. Nov. 1 is the first day of open enrollment for 2018, but at an enrollment center in downtown Newark on Wednesday, Dickerson was the only person there. Maria Menendez, the counselor helping her, said the number of people showing up is less than the number of people who showed up last year.

“Last year we had a lot of people [on the first day of enrollment],” she said.

For months, there have been efforts in Washington to repeal and replace. Premium rates are also going up.

Health Care Program Director for New Jersey Citizen Action Maura Collinsgru said that’s the problem — there is a lot of confusion on where it all stands.

This is what you need to know: People who have financial assistance are protected from premium increases. That includes an individual making less than $48,240 a year, or a family of four that makes less than $98,400. Everyone else may see rates go up because insurance companies are no longer getting federal dollars to cover cost sharing reductions, like discounts that lower costs such as copays and deductibles for low-income residents.

“If that prices them out, we are recommending they look at a different plan, either a lower level Silver Plan or a Bronze Plan,” Collingsru said. “I think there has always been room for improvement in the Affordable Care Act, and I think anyone who’s worked on it or supported it would tell you that. What there’s not room for is outright repeal and cutting the benefits and protection.”

“It would be bad,” Dickerson said on if the ACA went away. “A lot of people would suffer. A lot of people are already suffering.”

She just hopes whatever happens that people in her situation are not left stranded.