Thousands of NJ Residents Lose Health Plans with Rollout of Obamacare

Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

Some young and healthy college students think they might not need — or be able to afford — premium health insurance coverage. So many choose bare bones policies offered at most county and community colleges. But those low-cost plans may not meet the higher standards required under the Affordable Care Act.

“These bare bone policies usually cost about $100 a year. When the Affordable Care Act passed it meant that bare bones policies are no longer be compliant. Our colleges would have to offer much richer policies,” said Jake Farbman of the New Jersey Council of County and Community Colleges.

Affected students will now have to either choose a more expensive college plan through their school — or through the new federal health insurance marketplace. But computer glitches have plagued online enrollment since the program opened Oct. 1 and upgrading health plans might cost more than students can pay.

“Several of our colleges are offering those richer policies. Other colleges are directing students to the state website. There is a direct page on the state website that covers health insurance. They are also helping students with the website,” Farbman said.

Students who have coverage through one of the state’s four-year public colleges and universities and some private schools shouldn’t have to worry because these health plans have been ratcheted up to meet Obamacare standards. But the health care law still has left some students confused about how it will impact them.

“I have insurance through the university. right now I am trying to figure out if it will be enough for me and cover me. Right now I’m just trying to pay for school in general. That’s the main concern,” said student Patrick Racine.

Meanwhile, another seemingly unintended consequence of the health care law has surfaced and it’s impacting both physicians and their patients.

“Starting a few weeks ago, colleagues across the country had begun to receive notices that their participation in plans were being cancelled. Recently we’ve been getting calls from patients asking, ‘Am I going to be able to see you? Will you be in the new network?’ And we have no way to let these people know,” said New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians President Dr. Tom Shaffrey.

Published reports show some 800,000 New Jerseyans have been told they can no longer keep their existing plans, contrary to what President Obama declared prior to the rollout. But supporters of Obamacare still believe it will deliver on its promise to offer affordable health care to those who need it most.