The head of the Silver State Health Exchange said Tuesday that while the federal health insurance exchange is widely regarded as a mess, the same is not true of Nevada’s exchange.
The problem, according to director Jon Hager, is that too many people are confusing the two, thinking Nevada’s system is part of the federal system.
The federal exchange has drawn huge protests, including from Congress, because of long delays, glitches, security flaws and other issues preventing people in the 35 states relying on the federal government to run their program from actually signing up for health insurance.
Nevada’s system is working much better, Hager said. He said 26,000 of the estimated 118,000 Nevadans eligible have accessed the Nevada Health Link website and at least browsed through the available plans.
Of those, he said, 1,997 have selected a plan and either paid for it or confirmed they will so do before the Dec. 15 deadline. He said more than 4,400 have signed up for dental coverage, popular because many private plans don’t offer dental.
More than 310,000 people have visited Nevada’s website, NevadaHealthLink.com, Hager said.
The federal website, he said, “has operated poorly.”
The governor and Legislature were wise to create their own exchange, keeping control over the process in Nevada’s hands rather than 2,500 miles away in Washington D.C., Hager said.
“If we didn’t do it, Nevadans would be stuck with the federal system and its problems,” he said.
In addition, he said, local control has enabled his staff and contractors to fix problems and glitches as they appear.
People must choose a plan and sign up for it by Dec. 15 to meet the law’s requirement that they have insurance Jan. 1, Hager said.
But he said he isn’t concerned the numbers aren’t higher at this point, that he expects the numbers to increase significantly in December.
“People are taking their time, considering their options,” he said.
“We won’t meet the 118,000 target by Dec. 15,” he said. “That target is for March.”
March 31 is the close of open enrollment. Those not covered by then will face potential federal fines for not signing up.