All parties involved with the East Orange General Hospital's Healthcare Marketplace Open Enrollment Day Feb. 22 said that they are planning a second date at the nearby East Orange Campus High School March 22.
"We signed up 158 people to health insurance plans," EOGH Vice President of External Affairs Suzette Robinson said to "Local Talk" Feb. 25. "All three participating insurance carriers who were at the hospital Saturday said they are coming back to the high school March 22 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
"Local Talk," going by the 61 seats deployed for public enrollees in EOGH's cafeteria for those same four hours, figured that the public turned over those seats twice during the same 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. period.
Those seats did not include the 48 where clients had one-on-one application sessions with EOGH's Certified Application Counselors. Nor were the 14 seats in the adjacent private cafeteria room surrounding three tables held down by AmeriHealth New Jersey, Health Republic and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J. representatives counted.
The 158 enrollees were actually done within three hours. The opening hour was an introduction of the enrollment process plus an overview of plan offerings from each of the insurance representatives.
158 people enrolled into one of the three carriers' plans or placed onto an expanded New Jersey Medicaid system comes out to an average of 32.8 people interviewed and enrolled per hour.
All medical and civic parties involved may need to place an enrollee in under two minutes, given the March 31 enrollment deadline. Everyone in the U.S. who are not on a current medical insurance plan - or get caught out while changing plans - will face a federal enrollment penalty of either one percent or $95, whichever is greater April 1. That penalty climbs to two percent April 1, 2015.
Some people view the mandatory "enroll or pay a penalty," part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act which President Barack H. Obama promoted and signed in 2010, as un-Constitutional. The Supreme Court upheld the sign-or-pay mandate in 2013.
Given that "fact of life," various EOGH and City of East Orange officials - ranging from hospital CEO Kevin Slavin to city health officer Rochelle Evans - told the public about the "weeks of preparation" that went into Saturday's enrollment session. The effort included training the 24 Certified Application Counselors who came from several hospital departments.
"I thank President Obama for the care act," said Slavin. "More people will be covered and that will translate to less health care costs for everybody."
"Local Talk," in the spirit of participatory journalism, was the 30th person called up to a CAC and her laptop. (Paper applications are available but discouraged - another ACA fact of life.) I gave the counselor what identification and vital statistics I could muster. (You'll need more in case you're forwarded to the three insurance companies.)
My attention was split between the counselor's keyboarding and a live television feed of the U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team losing their bronze medal game to Finland until she said, "Congratulations - you've qualified for Medicaid." She handed me a slip with identification numbers to call or log in within two weeks' time.
My actual session with the CAC lasted 10 minutes - and was ready to leave the cafeteria before noon. I did talk with Horizon BCBCNJ's Ron Stephens AmeriHealth's Zemulist Pontoon and Heritage's Argelys Morel on the way out. They said that EOGH's Saturday session was among the best run they were in.
All enrollment parties are heading for the EOCHS cafeteria at 10 a.m.-2 p.m., March 22. Prospective enrollees are to bring the following:
- Social Security Card numbers or immigrant document numbers for all household members.
- All household members' birth dates - including the spouse and children under 18.
- Three most current pay stubs, W-2 forms, 1099-forms or "Wage and tax Statements" for all working household members.
- Information on any additional income; unemployment, SSI benefits, etc.
- Any current health insurance plans' policy numbers.
- "Any health insurance information you or your family could get from your spouse's job."
Those are unable to make the March 22 enrollment can qualify or select a plan through three CAC (973) phone numbers: Breon Boseman-Sims at 266-4700, Lynette Massey at 414-3474 and Rafael Ramos at 266-2978. They will be available until April 1.
Those who want to know about the three insurance carriers' plans may log onto: