Nevada’s Obamacare preparation is lagging significantly
September 5, 2013
With less than four weeks left before customers show up seeking health insurance under so-called Obamacare, only one of the more than 100 "navigators" who will help them through enrollment has been certified, the head of the Silver State Health Exchange said.
Those navigators will work through eight nonprofit agencies selected to set up the system that will help people enroll. To get certified, the people who will do the job must not only get trained but pass a background check.
In addition, while more than 1,200 insurance agents say they want to sell health care plans through the Exchange, none is signed up yet, Exchange Executive Director Jon Hager said. Because they are already in the insurance business, certifying them is much simpler, requiring only a four-hour training session.
But both Hager and Insurance Commissioner Scott Kipper said they are confident the program will open for business as scheduled Oct. 1. They made the statement during a telephone conference call with reporters to announce that the policy premium rates for the four major health insurers participating in the exchange are no on line.
The federal Affordable Care Act requires everyone to either buy health care coverage or get it through their employer starting next year. In Nevada, there are an estimated 118,000 uninsured people.
By buying insurance through the Exchange, Hager said, people qualify for the Advance Premium Tax Credit to subsidize the cost of their monthly payments. That's not the case if they buy from an agent.
For example, Hager said earlier, a 20-something making $15,000 a year would have all but $44 a month covered by the subsidy. Without the subsidy, the premium could be about $200, depending on age and where in Nevada that person lives.
The bad news for anyone not living in Clark County is that the plans are significantly more expensive in the north and rural areas — almost universally more than $100 a month more.
A review of proposed rates by the four insurers that have posted rates shows costs ranging from $120 a month for someone 20 or younger in Southern Nevada to $975 a month for a rural resident 60 or older. That is for the baseline "silver" plan.
But anyone making less than $45,960 a year will be eligible for some level of subsidy that, especially for young and healthy clients, will cover the majority of the cost.
Beginning in January, every plan will have to provide at least 10 benefits, including ambulatory patient care; emergency room, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care; drug, mental health and behavioral disorder coverage; prescription drugs; rehabilitation; lab services; preventative care; chronic disease management; and pediatric care.
People interested in looking at various plans and their rates can do so at doi.nv.gov/rates. Other data on how the federal law works, including how much of a monthly subsidy people can qualify for, are at nevadahealthlink.com under the Premium Calculator.