“While the federal government was trumpeting the benefits of Obamacare to boost enrollment earlier this year, about 1,800 families in New Jersey were receiving letters telling them their children would be losing their health coverage last week.
The Affordable Care Act — the federal law that mandates everyone have insurance — effectively killed FamilyCare Advantage, a low-cost option for kids in New Jersey created six years ago for parents who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid and other subsidized programs but too little to buy on a policy on their own. The state program was the first of its kind in the nation.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey was the only insurance carrier that agreed to offer the FamilyCare Advantage plan, which covered most medical, dental and vision needs for the relative bargain of $144 a month per child.
But it didn’t offer mental health treatment and several other services Obamacare requires, and that was the fatal flaw, said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), who sponsored the law creating the program.
Vitale said he tried for several months to broker a deal between Horizon and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but neither side could agree on how to make it affordable and legal. The program ended last week.
People who tried to buy a plan on the health exchange would have been hit with sticker shock, Vitale said. FamilyCare Advantage had no deductible, compared with the less generous Horizon plan on the exchange that has a minimum deductible of $1,500. And most people would not have qualified for subsidies through the exchange because they earned too much money, he said.
“This is enormously disappointing. New Jersey was always ahead of the nation on health coverage for children and parents,” said Vitale. “It was $5 for doctor visits, $1 for pharmacy and no deductible or cost sharing.”
Vitale noted the irony that the program created to extend universal health care access to all New Jersey’s uninsured children was done in by federal health care reform.” - Obamacare eclipses low-cost NJ health plan for middle-class kids, nj.com, 04/06/2014
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