Murphy conference on health insurance premiums

Gov. Phil Murphy holds a press conference on lowering health insurance premiums in the individual market on Sept. 7, 2018 in Red Bank.

RED BANK — Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday that some residents who get health coverage through the individual health insurance market next year will see average premium rates drop by 9.3 percent — a departure from an estimate earlier this year that predicted an increase of 5.8 percent.

Murphy, speaking at a press conference at Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center, said despite federal actions to dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act, New Jersey has taken steps to protect the health care law, which will save many residents from paying higher insurance premiums in 2019.

“Each of us recognizes the need to ensure every New Jerseyan has an affordable health care policy that works for them and their family,” Murphy said. “We know that the best way to do this and contain costs is to lower the number of uninsured residents, provide stability in the marketplace and ensure every eligible person has a policy that suits their needs and budget.”

“Yet these realities have fallen on deaf ears of the Trump White House,” he said.

About 275,000 New Jersey residents selected individual market plans during last year’s enrollment period, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Health care insurance experts have said that New Jersey has emerged as a nationwide leader in preserving parts of the Affordable Care Act repealed by the Trump administration by establishing its own individual mandate and developing a reinsurance program.

State Banking and Insurance Department officials said in July that premium prices would have increased, on average, 12.6 percent without the individual mandate, and by 5.8 percent with it.

New Jersey got approval last month from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to start a reinsurance program in 2019, which resulted in a total average rate decrease of 9.3 percent.

Residents have seen significant Affordable Care Act rate increases in the past — they went up by 23.3 percent for 2018 in the individual market and by 8.7 percent in 2017, Department of Banking and Insurance officials said.

“Without these actions by the state, rates would have increased by double digits over last year,” Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride said in a statement. “Instead, residents will see a decrease in the cost of health insurance for the upcoming plan year.”

The reinsurance program will help Obamacare insurers for some of the highest-cost claims by people covered in the individual market. The program will reimburse 60 percent of claims between $40,000 and $215,000 by an individual in a single year.

The program will be primarily paid for with federal grant money and revenue that comes from the state’s individual mandate policy.

Open enrollment for 2019 plans begins Nov. 1.

For all New Jersey 2019 individual market insurance rates, see state.nj.us/dobi/getcovered

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

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