Navigating the Healthcare Marketplace in 2021

Posted on: Thu, 04/22/2021 - 09:54
By: Lynn Perlmutter


Have you heard the news? Healthcare is more affordable than before! Center For Family Services’ Navigators are here to help.

You might have heard in the news that 'healthcare insurance is more affordable than before! But what's that mean for you?

  • Perhaps you’ve been getting job-based insurance for years, until COVID blew away the job – and the insurance.
  • Perhaps you ran your own business until COVID came – and customers left.
  • Perhaps insurance was too expensive, and you and your family went without.

Since 2013, Center For Family Services has been at the forefront of getting New Jersey residents connected to affordable health care. Through the Navigator Exchange program, you can learn about your coverage options, understand qualifications that may help lower the cost of your plan, and so much more. 

The latest COVID relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan, makes it easier to get healthcare coverage during this health crisis. Here’s what that means for you:

  • If you received unemployment insurance any time in 2021, you may be eligible for nearly free coverage
  • If your income was too high for financial help before, you might now qualify
  • If you already got help paying for your insurance, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get even more financial help

It’s important to note that If you can get insurance through your job, your employer is probably paying part of the bill and you can’t get financial help from this program.                   

Boy – is this confusing!

That’s why the Navigator Exchange program is here to help. We are Healthcare Navigators who have taken classes, passed tests, and become certified by the NJ State Department of Banking and Insurance. Why? Because we are passionate about healthcare and helping people find the most affordable, accessible, quality coverage available. We’re here to help you by answering your questions, figuring out what financial support you might get, and even filling out your enrollment forms with you. If you’re eligible for Medicaid, we’ll help you with that too. Healthcare insurance is complicated and confusing, especially now when it’s needed most. We are here waiting for your call.

It’s easier than ever to get your questions answered and receive guidance from the Navigator Exchange program. Join experienced Healthcare Navigators at 12:00pm every Tuesday in April, and every Wednesday in May to ask general questions about your options.  You can also call the Navigator Exchange Hotline, Monday – Friday, 8am-7pm. Bilingual hotline navigators are available to answer your general questions, and set you up for a free, confidential, and private appointment with a Navigator who will help you apply for the most affordable healthcare insurance you can get.

As of April 14th, 2021, Open Enrollment has been extended through the end of the year – December, 31, 2021. Due to the pandemic, enrollment and coverage options change frequently. In addition to reviewing our Frequently Asked Questions below and attending a virtual “Ask a Navigator” meeting, you are encouraged to visit the Navigator Exchange program and GetCoveredNJ websites for up to date enrollment details.

Let the Navigator Exchange program help you get peace of mind knowing your family has affordable and quality healthcare coverage.


“Ask A Navigator” with Lynn
Wednesdays in May


Navigator Exchange Program Hotline
Center For Family Services
8am-7pm Monday-Friday


FAQ (updated April 19, 2021)

Where does this insurance come from?

You might hear the insurance program called the ACA (Affordable Care Act), or nicknamed “Obamacare”. You can buy it through Federal or State Health Insurance Marketplaces made to get quality and affordable healthcare coverage to US residents. Every health plan in the Marketplace must cover a set of “essential health benefits”, including doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, prescriptions, and more. Insurance companies can’t deny you coverage or charge you more if you have pre-existing medical conditions. The New Jersey Marketplace is called Get Covered NJ (


Am I eligible for coverage through the New Jersey Marketplace?

All US citizens or nationals who live in New Jersey are eligible to buy an insurance plan through the Marketplace, whether or not you have a job. However, you can only get financial help if you don’t get insurance through your job. At the Center For Family Services, bilingual hotline navigators can answer your questions in both Spanish and Korean, and set you up for a free, confidential, and private appointment with a Navigator who can help you apply for the most affordable healthcare insurance that you are eligible for. Call 877.962.8448 between 8am-7pm Monday-Friday.


Am I eligible for financial help?

More people than ever will qualify because of the latest COVID relief bill. If you already get financial help, you will likely be eligible for more. If you didn’t get help before because your income was too high, you might now qualify for savings. Here are some examples for a family of 4:


Household Income (family of 4)

Financial Help

less than $36,576

you might be eligible for NJ Family Care, a complete heath insurance program, for little or no cost.

less than $39,300

your monthly premiums may be near zero and you’ll save when you go to a doctor or get drugs.

less than $65,500

you may get financial help for your monthly premiums and you’ll save when you go to a doctor or get drugs.

less than $94,080­­

your children might be eligible for low or no cost insurance through NJ Family Care.

less than $104,800

you get financial help to pay for your monthly premiums.

more than $104,800

NEW: you may get financial help so your healthcare insurance doesn’t cost more than 8 ½ % of your household income.

* If you get insurance through your job, you can’t get financial help for Marketplace plans.


This is very complicated! That’s why the Center For Family Services has a hotline to get a free, confidential, and private appointment with a Navigator who can help you find the most affordable healthcare insurance. Call 877.962.8448 between 8am-7pm Monday-Friday.


How do I apply financial help?

The Healthcare Navigators at the Center For Family Services can help you fill out the application forms. We can also help you find out if you are eligible for lower cost healthcare for you and/or your children through NJ Family Care. Call 877.962.8448 between 8am-7pm Monday-Friday to set up a free, confidential, and private appointment with a Navigator.


I’m unemployed. Am I eligible?

If you or your spouse has received or qualified for unemployment insurance at any time in 2021, your family is eligible for significantly reduced premiums. This is a temporary benefit only for 2021 from the new COVID relief bill. Contact the Navigator Hotline at 877.962.8448 to get the latest information.


Is there a deadline to enroll?  What if I want to change my plan now that I have more financial help?

Usually, you can only enroll in health insurance plans once a year. But now, because of COVID and the extra financial help that will be available through the new COVID relief bill, enrollment in New Jersey will be open through the end of this year. This means that anyone can enroll or change their insurance plan at any time through December 31, 2021.


What do I need to enroll?

You will need this information for yourself and anyone in your household applying for coverage:

  • Home and/or mailing addresses
  • Birth dates
  • Social Security numbers
  • Document information for legal immigrants, if applicable
  • Employer and income information for every member of your household (for example, pay stubs, W-2 forms, unemployment insurance letter)