New Jersey Enacts Individual Health Mandate
A new law entitled the “New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act” was signed by Governor Phil Murphy on May 30, 2018 to reestablish the recently repealed “shared responsibility tax”. The law, which will take effect on January 1, 2019, will require every New Jersey resident to obtain health insurance with minimum essential coverage or pay a fee, essentially adopting the rules of the ACA.
This legislation will directly impact residents of NJ and indirectly affect employers with employees residing in the state.
State Individual Mandate
The New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act will require all New Jersey residents to have Minimum EssentialCoverage (MEC) beginning January 1, 2019, or pay a penalty.
In light of Federal repeal on Dec 29, 2017, Tax Reform Bill Includes Repeal of Individual Mandate Beginning in 2019, NJ’s mandate is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019, making NJ the second state, after Massachusetts, to enactan individual mandate. The mandate includes an annual penalty of 2.5% of a household’s income or $695 per adultand $347 per child – whichever is higher. The maximum penalty is based on household income and will not exceed theaverage yearly premium of a bronze plan.If it’s based on a per-person charge, the maximum household penalty will be $2,085.
A “hardship exemption” will be available for individuals who cannot afford coverage, determined by the State Treasurer. NJ expects to collect between $90 million and $100 million in penalties. This money, along with additional federal funding, willbe used on a reinsurance program, which Murphy also signed into law.
While these bills do not directly affect employer sponsored plans, the individual mandate requirement for NJ residents will likely require education for employees. As residents in NJ will now be required to obtain health overage to avoid a state income tax penalty, employers may see an increase in plan enrollment. Unlike Massachusetts which requires specific coverage components, the NJ law only requires that coverage be MEC. Thus, most traditional employer-sponsored group health plans should meet this definition. However, coverage for only dental benefits, certain medical indemnity policies and vision benefits are likely not sufficient for purposes of avoiding the state tax. For now, employers with employees who reside in New Jersey may wish to educate employees at Open Enrollment that by January 1, 2019 health coverage will be required for NJ residents to avoid a penalty.
New Jersey lawmakers feared the repeal would drive healthier people out of the marketplace causing premiums to spike. They believe this law is pertinent to stabilize the marketplace, keep people insured, and prevent a death spiral of the individual market.