Thousands of NJ Children Losing Coverage Due to Obamacare

Monday, 07 Apr 2014 01:04 PM

By Melanie Batley

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About 1,800 families in New Jersey received letters last week informing them their children would be losing their health coverage because the Affordable Care Act effectively eliminated a state program for low-income residents.

According to NJ.com, Obamacare's new mandated requirements forced the closure of New Jersey's low-cost children's insurance coverage plan, FamilyCare Advantage.
The plan, offered by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, was designed for children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to buy a policy on their own. It offered medical, dental, and vision coverage for just $144 a month.

"Without having that safety net, if an illness arises, we will probably take him to the ER," Bob Miotla told NJ.com about the cancellation of his son's policy, adding that it made him "extremely angry."

The program, which was the first of its kind in the nation, was implemented six years ago and considered a model for other states looking for ways to provide affordable quality coverage for children, NJ.com reported.

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But because it did not include a number of areas of coverage required under the new federal healthcare law, the program was deemed illegal and was terminated.

"This is enormously disappointing," Democratic state Sen. Joseph Vitale, who co-sponsored the bill that created the program, told NJ.com. "It was $5 for doctor visits, $1 for pharmacy, and no deductible or cost sharing."

Vitale told NJ.com that most families whose children were covered will not be eligible for federal Obamacare subsidies because "they earned too much money," and will likely face a shock if they go to the exchange to buy coverage with minimum deductibles of $1,500.

Last fall, about 800,000 people who bought their coverage through the state-regulated small employer and individual market programs in New Jersey were informed that their plans did not meet federal requirements, according to NJ.com.

Though President Barack Obama asked governors in states with similar situations to preserve the policies for a year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie allowed insurance companies to decide, and they declined.

In the case of FamilyCare Advantage, Horizon made the same decision, saying the new healthcare law forced the company to end the program.

"The NJ FamilyCare Advantage plan does not meet all ACA requirements and would have had to be significantly changed. This would have increased considerably the premiums for the plan," Horizon spokesman Tom Vincz told NJ.com.

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