N.J. launches online health insurance plan comparison tool

New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Richard J. Badolato announced a new guide to assist New Jersey consumers in shopping for an individual health plan that best suits their needs.

Whether buying a plan for the first time or replacing coverage already in place, the Annual Open Enrollment for 2017 individual plans began November 1, 2016 and continues through January 31, 2017. To buy plans with a January 1, 2017 effective date, consumers buying through the marketplace (healthcare.gov) need to apply by December 15, 2016. If buying directly from an insurance carrier or insurance agent, consumers need to apply by December 31, 2016. Barring special circumstances, applications for individual plans must be received during the Annual Open Enrollment Period.

“Deciding which individual health plan is the best one can feel like an overwhelming and confusing task,” said Commissioner Badolato. “We are fortunate in New Jersey to have many plan options – but that makes the decision even more important. That is why the Department has published an online step-by-step guide to help New Jersey consumers through the process. The guide will help shoppers decide where and how to buy individual coverage, as well as estimate the total cost of that plan. Total cost is more than the monthly premium.”

The shoppers’ guide is found here: www.dobi.nj.gov/ihc/whichplan

After using the guide to determine where to shop, whether through the Marketplace or Off the Marketplace, shoppers will be asked to consider how to shop. This includes reviewing the plans’ networks of doctors and other medical providers, and to consider whether a plan’s network features tiers. Consumers are also encouraged to consider how cost sharing factors into the plan’s total cost. The guide takes consumers through the process with a series of questions that ultimately leads to helping the consumer estimate the total cost of an individual plan.

“Whether shopping for your first plan or replacing a current one, New Jersey consumers should know that this Department is here to help them,” said Badolato. “If this excellent guide does not answer all of your questions, our knowledgeable staff is here to help you throughout the year, but especially during this Annual Open Enrollment Period.”

The Department’s website also provides additional information for healthcare insurance shoppers, including the contact information for licensed insurance companies offering coverage here: www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_insurance/ihcseh/ihcrates2017.htm

For consumers who have questions about coverage through the Marketplace, assistance by phone is found by dialing 1-800-318-2596 and online at www.healthcare.gov.

For questions about buying coverage Off the Marketplace, consumers can call the Department at 609-292-7272 or 1-800-446-7467 or can review the many resources on the shopping for health insurance page at www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_insurance/ihcseh/shop_ihc.htm.

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