TRENTON – New Jersey is going to try to make it easier for people without health insurance to get coverage through the state’s health insurance marketplace.

The New Jersey Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program will allow residents who are uninsured or don’t have adequate insurance to indicate their interest in coverage when they file their tax returns or make a claim for unemployment benefits.

Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride said a record of more than 324,000 residents signed up for health coverage through Get Covered New Jersey during the past Affordable Care Act open enrollment period.

“This is another step forward that reduces barriers to health coverage,” Caride said. “Enrolling more residents in health plans will lead to better health outcomes for New Jersey families.”

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The bill creating the program, A674/S1646, was among 33 signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on June 30, along with the 2023 state budget legislation. It was passed unanimously by lawmakers in June.

Data collected through tax returns and unemployment claims will be analyzed to determine if a person is eligible for insurance coverage, including automatic enrollment in the NJ FamilyCare program in the Department of Human Services, or subsidies to help pay for private coverage.

“This is a smart, proactive approach that will help make health care more accessible to all residents,” said Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman.

Avoid health insurance tax in NJ

People who check the box for the Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program, enroll and maintain coverage won’t be charged the "shared responsibility payment" that New Jersey levies on people who are uninsured when they file their income tax return.

The payment varies based on a person’s income and family size. For the 2021 tax year, meaning the returns filed this year, the payments included ranges of $695 to $3,492 for an individual taxpayer and $2,351 to $4,500 for a family with two adults, three dependents and an income under $200,000.

The payment generates around $44.6 million a year in state collections.

Maura Collinsgru, director of policy and advocacy at New Jersey Citizen Action, called the new Easy Enrollment program “another example of government working well and doing good for ordinary people.”

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“Establishing an automatic enrollment system for uninsured tax filers will help close the coverage gap and ensure more New Jerseyans have the coverage they need, especially working families who may not otherwise be aware of their coverage options or have the time to enroll,” Collinsgru said.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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