Do you have health insurance? Too many do not.

In New Jersey with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, coupled with expansion of Medicaid, more people now have health insurance. However there remain far too many who are uninsured. For those who don’t have insurance or want to make a change, open enrollment starts on Monday.

The NY Times provides us state-by-state and county-by-county data on the uninsured. “The remaining uninsured are primarily in the South and the Southwest. They tend to be poor. They tend to live in Republican-leaning states. The rates of people without insurance in the Northeast and the upper Midwest have fallen into the single digits.”  According to Enroll America about 17.6 million Americans have gained coverage since the Affordable Care Act took effect.

In New Jersey all counties in 2015 reduced the number of their uninsured by 1% or 2% since 2014. The counties with the lowest uninsured in 2015 are Sussex and Somerset at 4%, and Bergen, Burlington, Gloucester, Monmouth, and Warren at 5%.

However other counties in 2015 have between 8% and 11% uninsured. So there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly in our more urban counties.

These are the counties which in 2014 had the highest rate of uninsured and how they fared in 2015:

County: % Uninsured: 2015 – 2014

Cumberland:  11 – 12
Passaic:   9 – 10
Hudson:   9 – 10
Atlantic:   8 – 10
Essex:   8 – 10
Camden:   7 – 9
Union:   8 – 9

For too many in our state obtaining health insurance is a problem. For some the system remains too complicated, and they need assistance. Others are stuck in a “Medicaid gap,” too poor to afford the marketplace, but unable to get into a government program. There are also those who can get subsidies and enter the market but have chosen not to, and they have to pay a penalty to the IRS.

With a single-payer system there would be 0% uninsured. We are unlikely to get soon the system we want, but we must do better with the system we have.

To enroll in an insurance program go to healthcare.gov. Plans change from year to year. Even those people who have insurance might find a plan they like better by checking out their options.

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