People who do not have health insurance can sign up for a plan on nevadahealthlink.com from November 1 through January 15. Officials say there has never been a more crucial time to have health insurance than right now. Nevada has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for six months.
“At any moment, you could be admitted to the hospital with long duration stay,” Heather Korbulic, Executive Director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange said. “Extreme care comes at a really high expense and that could bankrupt you at any minute.”
About 77,000 Nevadans have a health insurance plan on the exchange. Korbulic expects that number to rise. Part of the reason is because the pandemic is causing economic issues that have led to higher unemployment rates.
“That unemployment really does have a downstream impact for people because not only are they losing their job, often times they’re losing their health insurance,” Korbulic said.
About 11,000 Nevadans do not have insurance during a time that more than 72,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state. The uninsured rate is expected to grow, so some will turn to Medicaid or a plan on the exchange.
“That has a lot to do with the pandemic and the fallout as a result of all of the unemployment from that,” Korbulic said. “We want to make sure that we’re catching people and preventing them from going uninsured because there’s no worse time to have no insurance than in a pandemic.”
People who have lost their health insurance because they lost their job do have options. The exchange is offering a special enrollment period for them.
“You have an opportunity within 60 days of losing that insurance to enroll at any time on the exchange, so you don’t have to wait until open enrollment if you’ve lost your employer-sponsored plan,” Korbulic said.
The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange has been operating Nevada Health Link since 2013, following the passage of the Affordable Care Act. After several years on the federal government’s system, it stood up its own state-based system last year. Korbulic says the move allows them to know how many consumers it has, where they live and where they can focus their outreach.
“Nevadans know how to help Nevadans,” Korbulic said. “The feds don’t know how to help Nevadans in the same way that our state does and so we’ve really capitalized on those opportunities to make our own policies, to make our own rules, and things are going really well.”
She says the move has been successful and has offered flexibility. The special enrollment period is possible as a result of the switch, and it is offering open enrollment for on month longer than the federal system.
Nevadans will have more carriers, plans and a variety of rates to choose from for the next year. People can choose from five carriers after two more signed on for the upcoming year. Just a few years ago, 14 counties faced the possibility of losing its carrier. Today, every county in the state will have at least two carriers to choose from. Statewide, there are more than 50 policies available.
“Things have gone really well over the last few years,” Korbulic said. “We’ve seen some stabilization in or market here in Nevada and we’ve seen some growth, at least some growth opportunities.”
Korbulic says most of the people who sign up for a plan on the exchange will qualify for subsidies. If premiums go up, the subsidies will increase at the same rate. That means they will not have to pay more money than the already do. Nevadans can begin shopping for a policy, starting October 2.
“Even if you’re going to be auto-renewed into your plan, it’s still worth the time to take a look at everything that exists and see if you can find a better plan or a more affordable plan that’s right for you and your individual needs,” Korbulic said.
Korbulic says it is important for everyone who does not have insurance to look into the exchange. Subsidies will pay up to 100 percent of the cost in some cases.