Streams

Health Insurance Exchanges: Progress in New York, Slow Going in New Jersey

Monday, October 14, 2013

The rollout of the health insurance exchanges is starting to gain momentum in New York, but progress continues to be slow in New Jersey. One state developed its own system - the other outsourced it to the federal government.

About two-thirds of the states, including New Jersey, opted not to develop their own exchange, and the federal system, healthcare.gov, has been consistently overwhelmed since October 1st, with relatively few people able to log in, create accounts, examine different insurance plans and enroll in a plan.

But in New York, things have steadily improved, according to Elisabeth Benjamin, from the Community Service Society. She says, "We’re pretty excited. We’re enrolling people here – and the phones are ringing off the hook."

Benjamin’s Manhattan-based organization is one of the state’s main “navigators,” federally funded organizations that help people enroll for coverage.

Other navigators in New York say they haven't been so lucky. The Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx says it is still waiting to receive grant-funded computers that were ordered weeks ago. The hardware is needed, so that people who come in to apply can type in their own information, allowing them to keep it private, while they get help from navigators.

In New Jersey, enrollment continues to be much harder. Governor Christie vetoed the legislature’s attempt to create a state exchange so New Jersey is one of those states relying on healthcare.gov.

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David Furst

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