Health Insurance Exchange Dismissed from Lawsuits, Deals with Other Issues

Open enrollment may have ended in February, but the state’s health insurance exchange has had a busy spring.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange negotiated its dismissal from two class action lawsuits, prepared for today’s opening of its call center, wrestled with incorrect tax-credit forms and continued to take on sign-ups in a special-enrollment period. Current enrollments through the exchange’s Nevada Health Link marketplace are running well above levels exchange officials said they needed to meet budgets.

First, about those lawsuits: One involves hundreds of consumers who say they never received coverage they paid for. The other was brought by insurance brokers who allege they were stiffed on commissions they earned when they helped Nevadans buy plans.

Bruce Gilbert, the exchange’s executive director, told the agency’s board in a Wednesday meeting that exchange attorneys successfully argued to release the state from the lawsuits, in which exchange contractor Xerox remains a defendant.

The exchange was dismissed without prejudice, which means plaintiffs have the right to bring the agency back into the lawsuits if necessary.

Board member and Las Vegas doctor Florence Jameson said no one was “at liberty” to discuss why the exchange as dismissed.

But a source involved in one of the lawsuits told the Review-Journal after the meeting that proceeding against Xerox alone would make for a “cleaner” case.

Still, the exchange isn’t completely free of everything Xerox.

The agency continues to work on the close-out of its relationship with the company, which it fired in May but kept on to help administer the 2014 plans that expired Dec. 31. Both sides continue to discuss the transfer of consumer information into state hands. Also, Xerox agreed to keep its 30-employee call center in Henderson open until Wednesday to help correct and reissue the IRS forms that consumers need to claim premium tax credits.

Neither exchange officials nor Xerox representatives say they know how many of the 30,000 consumers who bought exchange coverage in 2014 received tax-credit forms with incorrect coverage information. But other exchanges have reported error rates of 10 percent to 12 percent.

Xerox sent about 200 corrected forms on March 5, 500 more corrected forms on March 17 and a final round of 492 fixed forms on April 9, said Laura Rich, the exchange’s project management officer.

Now, with Xerox’s call center closed as of Wednesday, the exchange’s 10-worker call center in Carson City will take over today and handle all future queries.

Xerox’s call center has been fielding 180 calls a day, with about a third of them related to tax-credit forms, Rich said.

Despite the technical glitches that plagued the first sign-up period in 2014, the exchange’s 2015 enrollment is running ahead of expectations, Rich said.

From January through April, an average of 49,523 exchange plans a month took effect.

Because the exchange used a “conservative” budgeting forecast of 39,000 effectuations a month, the actual numbers are “great news for Nevadans,” Rich said.

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