Open enrollment for plans under the Affordable Care Act marketplace opens on Thursday. And while the federal government has taken steps to weaken what has commonly been called Obamacare, the state is working to keep it in place.

One of the biggest steps in that effort recently announced by Gov. Phil Murphy is a new state website to help residents learn more about about enrollment. The Get Covered New Jersey campaign was started to promote the options available to residents in spite of the efforts by federal Republicans and the Trump administration to dismantle the program.

"From day one, my administration committed to protecting the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey against President Trump's efforts to tear it down," Murphy said. "We know it will take every effort to combat the barrage of attacks that continue from the federal government to make sure residents get the coverage they deserve."

Trump has made several changes to the program, including cutting the open enrollment period from three months to just six weeks for the past two years. The Trump administration has also cut advertising, as well as the funding for "navigators" who help enroll people in the programs.

Open enrollment runs through Dec. 15, and there are a number of programs being offered, that come with discounts to make them more affordable for residents depending on their annual income. According to the new website, close to 200,000 New Jersey residents got a tax credit to help pay for their insurance coverage. The average New Jersey resident saved more than $400 a month with the tax credit, according to the state.

The first step to registering for a plan through the marketplace is to go to the federal website, which can guide people step by step to find the plan that works best for them. The federal government also offers a checklist to make sure you have all the documentation needed to enroll in one of the plans, and can also help you estimate how much the plans will cost you.

While not everyone will qualify for discounted rates through the marketplace, the new state website also provides information about Off the Marketplace coverage.

New Jersey is also one of only seven states to receive a waiver from the federal government to offer a "reinsurance program." As part of this program, the state will reimburse insurers for high-risk enrollees. The state estimated that it will reduce the cost of individual health insurance premiums by 15 percent. The program had been part of the Affordable Care Act, but was phased out in 2016.

There are a few exemptions for people who would not need to have health insurance for the new year, but for the most part all New Jersey residents are required to have some form of health insurance.

Anyone who does not qualify for an exemption and does not have health insurance will have to include a Shared Responsibility Payment as part of their 2019 income tax return. The payment is based on income, family size and how many months people were without coverage in 2019.

The minimum payment for an individual who was not covered for the entire year would pay a minimum of $695 and a maximum of $3,265, according to the state. A family with two adults, two children and an income of $200,000 or less would may a minimum of $2,085 and a maximum of $4,500.

The efforts made by the Murphy administration to keep the Affordable Care Act available differed from what Chris Christie did as governor.

"For five years, New Jersey's administration has been absent from efforts to enroll state residents in the affordable and quality health care programs the ACA has to offer," Maura Collingsru, New Jersey Citizen Action Health Care Program Director said.

Anyone with additional questions about how to enroll in a health insurance plan can also call 1-877-9NAVIG8 (877-962-8448).

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