Nevada health insurance exchange
Nevada health insurance exchange
By Louise Norris
July 24, 2014
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). But qualifying events will trigger special open enrollments throughout the year, so the total will continue to climb.
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 as well.
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 Healthcare.gov instead for 2015 and possibly longer. The state will retain some responsibilities – certifying private plans and determining Medicaid eligibility – under the partnership model. But HHS will handle enrollment; applicants will be redirected to Healthcare.gov from the Nevada Health Link site.
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 Healthcare.gov, 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.
Nevada Health Link is in the final stages of seeking a 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
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)