- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey residents will only be able to choose between two companies this year in the federal health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment for 2017 began Tuesday and will last through January. New Jersey residents can choose between plans from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey or AmeriHealth New Jersey.

A review by The Associated Press found that Americans in the health insurance markets will have less choice next year than any time since the program started.

Insurance plans from Oscar, UnitedHealthcare and Health Republic of New Jersey will not be offered for 2017. Officials with Health Republic said earlier this year that the insurance co-op was under “considerable financial strain” due to the ACA’s risk adjustment mandate.

Largely as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s uninsured rate has dropped to a historically low level, less than 9 percent. But the program hasn’t yet found stable footing, and it remains politically divisive. Insurer participation rose in 2015 and 2016, only to plunge.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls the health care law “a disaster,” and has vowed to seek its repeal. Democrat Hillary Clinton says she would leave all major health care programs in place, but would plan tweaks and adjustments.

Expansion of the ACA has also led to more than 500,000 New Jersey residents getting overage under Medicaid, Gov. Chris Christie announced in August.

The expansion allowed adults without children and an income of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to apply for coverage.

Christie credited his decision to expand Medicaid with helping to insure more people, but he also criticized the federal government, which he said he did not trust and said that future New Jersey governors should be able to evaluate the state’s partnership with the federal government if it makes financial sense.

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