What Does NJ’s Health Insurance Mandate Really Do? Nothing.

Commentary By: Morgan Reitzel, Follow South Jersey Intern

In New Jersey, you are mandated to have health insurance, but what if you can’t afford it?

Since January 1,  2019, all residents of New Jersey must have health insurance under the New Jersey Health Insurance Preservation Act unless you want to pay a penalty. 

If a household fails to pay the health coverage or qualify for an exemption will result in an assessment of a Shared Responsibility Payment (SRP) which basically means that you have to pay more taxes. 

An exception can include: “reasons such as earning income below a certain level, experiencing a short gap in coverage, having no affordable coverage options, or enduring a hardship.” 

You may be thinking, oh this is great! Now everyone can have health insurance! But what about those residents that are qualified for an exception? They are right back in the same spot as before this mandate with no help from the government and a massive medical bill for a simple visit to the hospital or doctor’s office. 

The bottom line is that the people who can afford health insurance without the mandate have it and everyone who qualifies for an exception doesn’t, so what does this mandate really do? Nothing.

According to the The New Jersey Hospital Care Payment Assistance Program, “(Charity Care Assistance) is available for people who are uninsured or underinsured. Patients may qualify for free or reduced charge services for necessary hospital care, although some services that are separate from hospital charges (physician fees, anesthesiology fees, radiology interpretation, and outpatient prescriptions, for example) may not be eligible for reduction.”

People that do not have health insurance can’t really go to a physician’s visit or have yearly check-ups because of how expensive it is, so they can’t do anything about their medical problems until it becomes an emergency. Those prescription pills that you may need to stay alive may cost someone with health insurance $10, but they cost someone without health insurance almost $150. 

Realistically, health insurance helps the people who can afford it and making it mandated doesn’t really solve any problems or make any, it just does nothing. 

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