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Nevada health insurance exchange

NV will use for enrollment, but remains a state-run exchange

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  • September 15, 2014

Open enrollment kicks off on November 15, and Nevada Health Link is prepared for a much better second round.  On May 20, the exchange board unanimously voted to drop Xerox (the company that had been responsible for building the state-run exchange website) and switch to instead (this is a permanent change and Nevada is no longer looking for a private vendor to replace Xerox).  The state will retain some responsibilities – certifying private plans and determining Medicaid eligibility – and will legally still be classified as a state-run exchange.  But HHS will handle enrollment; applicants will be redirected to from the Nevada Health Link site.

With Nevada Health Link relying on the now very-functional site for eligibility and enrollment, the state-run portion of the exchange will be able to focus on consumer advocacy and assistance, without being bogged down by the technological problems that hampered the exchange during the 2014 open enrollment.  In addition to using for enrollment, premium payments will be handled directly by the carriers for 2015, rather than routing through the exchange first.  As a result of these changes, Nevada Health Link should have far fewer technological headaches during the 2015 open enrollment and throughout next year.

Nevada Health Link is debuting a pre-screener tool for the 2015 open enrollment period; consumers will answer six simple questions and then be routed to the appropriate section of the website.  The exchange is also putting a lot of emphasis on in-person assistance for the upcoming open enrollment period.  They will be upgrading the portion of their site that helps consumers find local navigators, brokers and assisters (currently it just displays all of the names in a PDF style document.  But the new “find an assister” tool will let people search by name or zip code and will display results in a Google maps format).  Nevada Health Link will also have a community events calendar on its website so that people can easily see when and where enrollment events are taking place.

Because Nevada will be using for enrollment, current enrollees need to re-enroll during the 2015 open enrollment that runs from November 15 to February 15.  People who do not complete the re-enrollment process will be automatically re-enrolled in their current plan, but without premium subsidies.  In order to continue to receive subsidies, people who enrolled through Nevada Health Link for 2014 need to make sure that they re-enroll for 2015.  They can do this with the help of a broker, navigator or assister at the exchange call center, and they must finalize their re-enrollment by December 15 in order to have seamless subsidies going into 2015.

Nevada Health Link extended their 2014 open enrollment period to May 30 for people who experienced technical difficulties during the regular enrollment period.  By the end of May, the exchange had enrolled about 35,700 people – short of their goal of 50,000 (which had been modified in early 2014, down from an original goal of 118,000).  That number had climbed to about 38,000 by mid-summer, but had dropped to about 34,000 by early September.  Nevada Health Link’s attrition rate is thus higher than average, and the exchange has a lot of work to do to retain its customer base during the 2015 open enrollment period when they will all have to re-enroll.

In addition to the private plan enrollments, as of April 19, Nevada Health Link had also enrolled 182,946 applicants in the state’s Medicaid program, which was expanded under the ACA.  Medicaid enrollment continues year-round, so that number is likely growing.

Xerox has so far been paid about $12 million of the $72 million that had been allocated to build the exchange, and they will only receive a small portion of the remaining funds, since much of the site was never built or was not built correctly.  However, Xerox will continue to work with Nevada Health Link until early 2015, running call centers and enrolling applicants who qualify for a special open enrollment period during the rest of this year.  Applicants signing up during the 2015 general open enrollment – starting on November 15 – will be directed to the federal call center for, while applicants enrolling in Medicaid (year-round) will be utilizing a separate call center.   There is certain to be confusion in the transition, but officials believe this will be less expensive than completely revamping the existing state-run exchange.

In July, Nevada Health Link selected Bruce Gilbert to be the new executive director, a position that has been open since mid-March when director Jon Hager resigned.

On June 2, the state announced that fixing the Medicaid portion of the exchange will cost $25 million, but the majority ($22.5 million) will be paid by the federal government.

In early April, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Nevada Health Link, alleging gross negligence in the cases of residents who enrolled through the exchange, claim to have paid their premiums, and yet have applications that are still pending and no insurance coverage in force.  In mid-May, the exchange board indicated that they would “request that Xerox provide defense and indemnify the state of any consequences stemming from the class action lawsuit.”  In addition to the consumers whose applications have not been correctly processed, Nevada Health Link has been plagued with problems stemming from a failure to correctly assign and pay broker commissions.

Nevada is the only state in the country where carriers selling plans outside of the exchange are required to make those policies available for purchase year-round.  The carriers are allowed to impose a waiting period of up to 90 days before coverage become effective, a provision that was included in order to protect against adverse selection.  Residents in Nevada are still required to comply with the individual mandate or face a tax penalty, but they are also allowed to shop for new coverage outside of the exchange year-round, with plans that will go into effect after 90 days.

Nevada’s Division of Insurance announced in late November that policies scheduled to end on December 31 could not be extended into 2014, and should instead be replaced with ACA compliant plans.

Four health insurance carriers are offering policies in Nevada’s exchange: Anthem, Health Plan of Nevada, Nevada Health CO-OP and Saint Mary’s Healthfirst.  The lowest-cost bronze plan in Nevada’s exchange averages $227/month, which is lower than the national average of $249.

Nevada’s blueprint for its state-run health insurance exchange received federal approval on Dec. 3, 2012. Gov. Sandoval and the state legislature created the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange in 2011, and the state moved steadily to get the marketplace up and running.

Nevada’s exchange is overseen by a 10-member board, seven of which are voting members. Five of the voting members were appointed by the governor, and the other two were appointed by the state Senate majority leader. The three nonvoting members lead the state’s departments of Administration, Health & Human Services, and Insurance.

Nevada Health Link operates as a “free market facilitator,” meaning it allows all qualified health insurance companies to sell policies on the exchange. Insurers can participate in both the individual and small-business exchanges.

Nevada Health Link officials hope to reduce the state’s uninsured rate from 22 percent in 2013 to 8 percent, according to a Kaiser Health News article.

More Nevada health insurance exchange links
855-768 5465

Silver State Health Exchange
Information about exchange planning and start-up operations

State Exchange Profile: Nevada
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Nevadaʼs progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.

Nevada Governorʼs Office for Consumer Health Assistance
Serves all residents with health-related issues; benefits, denials, insured, uninsured, worker’s compensation, and hospital billing.
(702) 486-3587 / Toll-Free: 1-888-333-1597 (nationwide)