Driving to visit relatives in the northern part of New Jersey recently, I passed a billboard on Route 280 that said: Get Covered NJ. I never saw a sign like that before. I smiled. The towering roadside message tells me that our new administration in Trenton is serious about increasing enrollment through the Affordable Care Act markets and NJ FamilyCare.

The Murphy administration’s outreach campaign includes other advertisements, the website GetCovered.NJ.gov, and grants to community organizations that are helping consumers navigate enrollment. Governor Murphy is using his unique position to lead the coordinated effort to reach hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents who can benefit from coverage—as well as those who need to renew their insurance.

For the first time, all of the state agencies are using their websites and other channels to educate residents about open enrollment. The state is working closely with grassroots organizations—even sharing the Get Covered NJ campaign title—demonstrating that even with a modest budget coordination can make a real difference.

ACA enrollment dipped by 10 percent in 2018, but Governor Murphy has said the state plans to reverse the trend for 2019. Open enrollment ends December 15. In these final weeks, we need to reach as many people as possible so they can shop for the right plan.

Shopping around this time of year makes sense. There’s an average reduction in premiums in the individual market of 9.3 percent, a significant turnaround after years of premium hikes. And many people discover they are eligible for Medicaid, which has no cost sharing — or for a subsidized plan on the ACA marketplace. About seventy percent of enrollees receive some support to pay the costs.

As a member of the Quality Institute, you can be proud that two policies driving the reduction in premiums originated in our Health Care Reform Work Group with Senator Joe Vitale. Many of our members and board members participated in the Work Group, including Heather Howard, JD, Director of State Health and Value Strategies, who provided critical support. From the beginning, we worked closely with the Murphy administration. With the herculean efforts of the Department of Banking and Insurance, we got the changes through for 2019.

First, our Work Group advocated for a reinsurance program to create a fund to help insurance companies pay for extremely sick patients. The Murphy administration earlier this year sought a federal waiver to create the program. Second, the Work Group advocated for an individual mandate. Earlier this year New Jersey’s legislature passed and Governor Murphy signed a law adopting a state-level health insurance mandate. Revenue collected from the mandate will help fund the reinsurance program.

With the insight and perspective of our members, the Quality Institute plays a critical role crafting and advocating for policies that drive health care quality, safety, and affordability.

You can help get the word out on Open Enrollment so more people get coverage—not penalties. The best way to keep down the cost of insurance is to enroll as many people as possible.

Here are a few ways you can help:

-Follow GetCovered.NJ.gov on your social media pages.
-Promote the GetCovered.NJ.gov website on your website’s home page.
-Go to GetCovered.NJ.gov  and print out a poster and hang one or more in your local community.

I believe we can reach our goal: record health insurance enrollment for 2019.