PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — New Jersey’s 2020-2021 open enrollment period for health insurance begins Nov. 1, and the veteran health navigators from the Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey (HRETNJ) are here to help.

A nonprofit affiliate of the New Jersey Hospital Association, HRETNJ is one of 16 organizations statewide selected by the N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance to support insurance enrollment by helping New Jersey residents complete the signup process. HRETNJ’s team of health navigators – all of whom are also veterans of the U.S. armed forces – have been certified to provide confidential assistance to help others secure health insurance coverage.

“We help underserved populations and vulnerable populations to enroll into healthcare coverage,” said navigator Don Sanford, a U.S. Air Force veteran. “That’s our mission.”

The team of veteran navigators also includes Norman Glover, an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient; Vernon Hall, PhD, an Army veteran; Michael Mimms, a Marine who holds a doctorate in education; and Jaye Silver, PhD, an Air Force veteran.

This year’s open enrollment period brings with it many changes. For the first time, New Jersey has established its own state-based online health insurance marketplace. Called Get Covered NJ (and accessible at ) it is open for insurance plan shopping now, with enrollment opening Nov. 1.

New Jersey also has an expanded open enrollment period Nov. 1 through Jan. 31; that’s twice as long as the federal open enrollment period Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. Those who sign up and pay the premium before the end of 2020 will be covered effective Jan. 1. Those who enroll in January will have coverage begin Feb. 1.

“Insurance coverage gives you better access to the care you and your family needs, along with financial peace of mind,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “Both are very important to the NJHA mission of improving the health of the people of New Jersey.”

Through a $431,000 grant with DOBI, the COVER NJ effort (Community Outreach Veterans for Enrollment and Reenrollment in New Jersey) provides free enrollment assistance either virtually or in person, with proper COVID-19 precautions in place. HRETNJ partners with NJHA member hospitals and community groups to connect with those seeking insurance. HRETNJ’s COVER NJ website at provides a calendar of enrollment events, health insurance resources and outreach tools for providers and partners. It also includes FAQs and invites users to pose their own questions to be answered by the veteran navigators.

Important information for those shopping for health insurance includes:

  • Plans come in a wide variety of coverage options and costs. Customers can search among numerous possibilities to meet their needs.
  • Many N.J. residents qualify for financial help or tax credits to make insurance more affordable. In New Jersey, a family of four earning up to about $104,800 a year and an individual earning up to about $51,040 a year may qualify for financial help to lower their coverage costs.
  • New Jersey still has a requirement that residents have health coverage or make a “shared responsibility payment” during tax time.
  • For some individuals and families who qualify, the state-run coverage program NJ Family Care provides enrollment opportunities year-round.

N.J. residents who need assistance navigating the enrollment process are encouraged to go to to learn more about the free assistance available from HRET’s veteran navigators. Community partners who would like to host the navigators for enrollment events can use the Contact Us form to seek more information.

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA)

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