The number of New Jerseyans who signed up to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act more than doubled from October to November, to 50,458, according to a state-by-state analysis by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, and further gains are likely when December numbers are released by the federal government in January.
"We are hearing anecdotally from different states that their signups are picking up steam," said Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS. "So you may see a big jump in the December figures for people who want coverage starting Jan. 1."
Depending on their income, individuals and families get federal subsidies to help them buy health insurance at healthcare.gov, or they qualify for free coverage under Medicaid, which is being significantly expanded. According to the TCHS, 25,286 New Jerseyans had signed up for Medicaid through the federal website by the end of November.
The federal government estimates 901,289 uninsured New Jerseyans are eligible either for a subsidized health plan through healthcare.gov or for Medicaid. The website's troubled rollout began Oct. 1, and by Nov. 30 the number of New Jerseyans who had enrolled either in a commercial health insurance plan or Medicaid totaled 75,744, or about 8.4 percent of the state's eligible uninsured.
But De La Torre said that doesn't mean New Jersey has reduced its uninsured population by 8.4 percent: some New Jerseyans who bought coverage on the website were already insured and were trading their old policy for a subsidized policy.
"Some people may have dumped their previous insurance and jumped into the exchange, because it would be cheaper if they qualified for subsidies," he said.
As for how successful New Jersey has been so far at getting people covered: "New Jersey is about in the middle of the pack" compared to other states, he said.
New Jerseyans can sign up for coverage at healthcare.gov until March 31, 2014, when the open enrollment period ends, and De La Torre said there could be an enrollment surge as the deadline approaches.
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