Federal officials and healthcare advocates are attempting to reach out to thousands of New Jersey state residents who are in danger of losing their health insurance. Research shows that these approximately 9,600 people bought health insurance through the federal insurance market, a major component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. However, because the federal government cannot verify their citizenship or immigration status, these people are considered ineligible for their plans under the current standards.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare”, restricted access to the federal insurance market to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. This created problems for some who attempted to enroll in the program when the Social Security or permanent resident card number they included in their application did not match federal records. Now, these enrollees must provide additional documents to confirm their status by September 5 to prevent losing their health insurance by September 30.
These 9,600 residents are part of 310,000 federal insurance holders around the United States who have yet to respond to federal attempts to contact them about their insurance eligibility. Federal officials have reportedly closed around 450,000 cases so far and are making progress on another 210,000 cases. The marketplace administration began notifying people this week by mail, email, and telephone that their coverage was at risk.
Health officials are reportedly concerned that residents may be unaware of the urgency of the situation, and have noted that advocates have a limited ability to inform the full affected population before their documents are due. Organizations, enrollment assistance services, and healthcare providers are all reportedly working to spread the message. However, questions on how those who may be unable to prove their residency status will access healthcare when they lose their insurance have not been answered.
“We offer an affordable alternative to the emergency room, urgent care centers often offer discounts for people who don’t have insurance,” says Kirsten Saint-Clair, Marketing Manager for Immediate Clinic.
At the end of the last open enrollment in April, 166,775 New Jersey residents had applied for federal marketplace insurance plans. It is not yet clear if the 9,600 people who now must submit further proof of status are undocumented or illegal immigrants, or legal residents who made a mistake on their application. Regardless, these applicants will receive two more phone calls, an email, and a final termination notice before the September 5 deadline, at which point their insurance will be cancelled to guarantee program integrity and preserve taxpayer funds. After this process is completed, another round of verification, this time focusing on reported incomes, will commence. Meanwhile, the next open enrollment period for federal insurance will begin on November 15.