New Jersey takes my advice & runs ads specifically mentioning their Individual Mandate Penalty!


This isn't the biggest development in the world, but exactly a year ago today I made a big fuss about how New Jersey (and DC) had reinstated their own health insurance individual mandate penalties after the federal version was zeroed out by Congressional Republicans...but didn't seem to be going through much effort to let people know about the penalty.

While Massachusetts had launched a massive multi-media awareness/education blitz statewide to make sure people knew that they had dusted off their pre-ACA coverage mandate requirement, New Jersey and DC didn't appear to be doing much, if anything, to let people know that they'd face a stiff tax penalty if they didn't either #GetCovered or qualify for an exemption.

As I noted at the time, just like the Doomsday Device in Dr. Strangelove, it completely defeats the whole point of having a penalty if no one knows it exists.

Well, this year, I'm pleased to report that it looks like GetCovered New Jersey has gotten the message. The TV ad above, which I've confirmed is running on at least some New Jersey cable stations, specifically mentions the state's coverage requirement/mandate penalty. The ad isn't fancy, but that's fine; it gets the basic info out there about Open Enrollment, most people qualifying for financial assistance, the deadline, and the coverage requirement.

The only gripe was noted by Andrew Sprung: The voiceover says that "8 out of 10 New Jerseyans receive financial help", which of course isn't quite right--it's 8 out of 10 ACA exchange enrollees qualify, since the vast majority of NJ residents receive their healthcare coverage elsewhere. Of course, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the VA, the IHS and all Employer-based insurance also includes "financial help" to some degree or another, so I guess the claim is technically true from that POV...

In addition to the ad, their website also mentions the penalty much more prominently with this message on the home page:

Important Information

In New Jersey, it’s the law to have health insurance. Failure to have health coverage or qualify for an exemption will result in a penalty. More information may be found here.

I should note that Covered California, which also just reinstated their own mandate penalty starting in 2020, also has a video which explains the three big things for CA this year: Their expanded/enhanced subsidies, their expansion of Medi-Cal to young undocumented immigrants, and, yes, the mandate penalty. This appears to be a web-only video (it's 90 seconds long, so I assume it's not being run as a TV ad), but it has over 270,000 views as of this writing (the New Jersey ad has over 104,000 views):