Special Enrollment Period Allows More Nevadans to Get Covered
Source: Las Vegas Sun, by Heather Korbulic
It’s been a decade since the passing of the landmark health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As we mark the transformational differences the ACA has made for residents of the Silver State over the past 10 years, we are particularly mindful of the importance of health care as we navigate the uncharted waters surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic.
More than ever, it’s critical to have health insurance to safeguard ourselves and our families from unforeseen health events, which is why we’ve introduced a limited-time Exceptional Circumstance Special Enrollment Period available for qualified residents who missed the open enrollment period last fall. Through April 15, eligible Nevadans can enroll in a qualified health plan through Nevada Health Link.
Through the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange and our online marketplace, Nevada Health Link, the ACA has improved the lives of thousands of Nevadans, just as the architects of this milestone legislation intended.
Since the exchange began offering qualified health and dental plans in 2014, annual enrollment steadily grew to a peak of more than 91,000 Nevadans in 2018. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the ACA in Washington, D.C., and an increasingly crowded insurance marketplace, enrollment has remained strong the past few years — something I’m proud of, given the obstacles and changes we’ve endured.
Nothing better encapsulates the impact of the ACA on our state than our shrinking uninsured gap, and since the ACA was enacted, Nevada’s number of uninsured has decreased from 23% to 11%. But there remains much work to be done to reach the thousands of Nevadans still without health insurance. According to a recent study from the Guinn Center, Nevada is the sixth-highest in the nation for its uninsured rate, an alarming statistic. We must remain committed to reaching even more uninsured residents to ensure they, too, have the benefits of coverage.
I would like to acknowledge the support both the ACA and the exchange have received from influential leaders like former Gov. Brian Sandoval, Gov. Steve Sisolak and many elected and government figures statewide who stand united in the belief that all Nevadans deserve access to affordable health care.
The ACA protects those with pre-existing conditions and guarantees they cannot be denied coverage because of their medical circumstances. Our plans provide the 10 essential health benefits mandated by the ACA, including: emergency and ambulatory services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, lab services and mental health services, to name a few. This list includes many of our most basic health care needs, and I cannot imagine having health insurance that was designed not to provide such services. Yet, as we know, not all health care plans are created equal and many off-exchange plans, while less expensive, do not cover these basic and essential needs.
Nevada Health Link is the only place Nevadans can qualify for subsidies to help offset the costs of insurance. Over 80% of consumers who purchase health insurance through Nevada Health Link qualify for these subsidies. We can also credit the ACA for covering young adults under their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26. Thanks to the ACA, women receive improved care during some of their most vulnerable health and life events, including pregnancy, labor, delivery and neonatal care.
Nevada became a Medicaid expansion state in 2014, growing insurance enrollment by 95% and covering an additional 200,000 people for health insurance. Thanks to this expansion, thousands no longer had to go without medical treatment or suffer financial hardship or bankruptcy due to medical bills.
This past year, Nevada Health Link underwent our greatest feat since inception. We transitioned away from the federal health insurance marketplace — healthcare.gov — to become a state-based exchange, putting Nevada in charge of its own program. This highly complex transition is already paying off by reducing costs and taxpayer investment, and giving the exchange access to real-time, more accurate enrollment data that allows it to better target consumers and deliver a higher level of customer service.
Visit nevadahealthlink.com or call 1-800-547-2927 to learn more.
Filed Under: Nevada Watch