SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - The South Brunswick Public Library will provide professional assistance for those who want to enroll in the affordable care act until the end of the enrollment period on December 15.
These professionals are being provided by The New Americans of New Jersey, a non-profit that addresses the needs of those living in New Jersey who are undocumented. The organization provides assistance like this every year during the enrollment period at different libraries and temples throughout the state such as East Brunswick and Plainsboro.
The organization is providing professional certified assistants by the New Jersey department of banking and insurance. One of which is Dr. Micheal Mimms, a veteran mental health navigator who has been helping people enroll in the ACA. Mimms says that he has been seeing fewer people signing up for health care over the years, implicating that more residents are getting health insurance.
Jagdish Vasudev is the president of New Americans and has been providing ACA enrollment assistance since it was signed into law in 2010. Vasudev says that most of the people who are showing up are primarily immigrants. The ACA is only available to those who have citizenship or a work permit in the United States, some undocumented people are entitled to subsidies that lower premiums based on their family size, income and medical history.
“New Jersey has become very expensive for a lot of people living in the state,” Vasudev said. “What we do is hold these in public space for everyone to find, come together to find a solution for them and help them find the best plan for them.”
Vasudev said that the goal of this initiative is to help people enroll and to educate them on how to navigate the healthcare system. According to Vasudev, people are generally confused about how healthcare works, not knowing what copay is, not knowing about deductibles and so on. Dr. Mimms has said that people don’t understand what they can afford and what entitlements they have.
“A lot of people we help don’t have health care or have not had enough health care for many years,” Dr. Mimms said. “People are afraid that they might not understand it and make a mistake or be penalized for not having insurance. We try to get people to pony up to the table and help them figure out how much this is going to cost and what plans are available to me.”
The ACA has been a contested piece of legislation. The Trump Administration has tried several times to repeal and replace it to no avail. Vasudev says that the administration has been trying to dissuade people from signing up by limited the enrollment period from 90 days to 45. Dr. Mimm’s biggest concern is that people of color and those who are under-represented are going to be uninsured.“My job is not to sell anything to you, my job is to lay out all of your options and ask them which one they would want,” Dr. Mimms said. “I have a responsibility to help people understand all the jargon and how this whole thing works. Then it is up to the people on how they want to go about this and how to navigate all the obstacles ahead of them.”