PRINCETON, NJ - The numbers tell the story. New Jerseyans overwhelmingly believe that New Jersey should implement its own health insurance exchange now.

The new poll, commissioned by AARP and conducted March 5-12 among registered voters age 18-64, found that 58% of registered voters believe the state should establish and operate its own health insurance exchange, including nearly 3 in 4 Republican respondents as well as 3 of 5 Independents. In addition, nearly 60% of respondents indicated that they feel it is either extremely important or very important that the state passes legislation in 2012 to develop a state-run health insurance exchange. Again, this opinion held across all political walks of life, with only 20% of Republicans and 14% of Independents indicating that they feel it is not very important or not at all important that this legislation is passed.

About four in five respondents who have health insurance say they are worried that they will have to pay more for their family’s health care (83%), while nearly three in four express concern about not being able to afford the health care services their family may need (72%). Twelve percent of NJ registered voters ages 18-64 responding to the survey are uninsured.

Nearly two-thirds believe the health insurance exchange should use a competitive, market-based strategy to choose plans that can be part of the exchange based on good quality and value while less than a third say any health insurance plan that meets minimum federal standards can be part of the exchange. 

“Voters across the state are worried about affordable health coverage and  recognize our state's leaders need to act," said AARP New Jersey President Dave Mollen. "They know that it is in the best interests of all New Jerseyans to have our own state-run health insurance exchange."

A health insurance exchange is a kind of marketplace where individuals without health insurance or with insufficient or costly insurance can shop for health insurance and access public programs and subsidies for which they are eligible. Small businesses can also purchase health insurance for their employees through the exchange.  Those who are satisfied with their current health insurance can keep it and nothing changes.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can choose to run their own health insurance exchange or the exchange will be developed by the federal government. 

Other key findings:

  • About three in five New Jersey registered voters ages 18-64 strongly agree that the majority of the governing board of the state health insurance exchange should be consumers and nearly another three in ten somewhat agree.  Nearly half strongly disagree that health insurance company representatives should serve on the board and another one in five somewhat disagree. 
  • 81% are worried about increases to their health insurance premiums. 77% of those who are insured through their employer are concerned about such increases.

"People across our state are very concerned about the rising costs of health insurance and want action,” said Ev Liebman, AARP New Jersey Associate State Director for Advocacy. “Right now there is a bill on Governor Christie’s desk that would establish the kind of insurance exchange consumers need.  This poll demonstrates why we are urging him to sign the bill now.” 

This poll, conducted by the Woelfel Research Inc, surveyed 802 NJ registered voters aged 18-64 by telephone.