Health exchange sees slight decrease in rates |

Health exchange sees slight decrease in rates

Cy Ryan
Special to the Nevada Appeal

The state agency that helps low income families and individuals find affordable health insurance says there will be a slight .04 percent decrease in premiums in January but 82 percent of these enrollees will continue to receive a subsidy.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange also intends to conduct an aggressive campaign to retain its 91,000 members and to gain more consumers.

Heather Korbulic, director of the exchange, told the board of directors Thursday there had been a breach in the state’s computer system but her division wasn’t informed until six days after the break-in. She called the delay unacceptable in taking steps to protect its consumers. There are no findings so far the information of enrollees has been misused.

She told the board of directors the agency submitted a budget request of $22.9 million for next fiscal year and $15.3 million in 2021. That calls for hiring 11 more employees as the state removes its federal assistance and does its own enrollment and other duties.

The changeover is projected to save $18.9 million over a five-year period. The system isn’t supported by state general funds but collects 3.1 percent from the premiums paid to the insurance companies in the system. The budget request won’t mean an increase in the assessment on the insurance policies.

Korbulic explained the higher budget request in the first fiscal year will be to finance both the federal and state systems. But the cost will drop in the second year when the all-state system is fully operational.

She explained a change in federal policies could affect the number of people in the system. The government is no longer going to impose a penalty on those who don’t have health coverage.

In 2019, small companies will be able to join together to offer health coverage to their workers. These plans won’t offer subsidies to the employee. And another proposed federal shift allows insurance companies to write short term policies up to 364 days, up from the present 90 days but Korbulic said they don’t include comprehensive coverage.

To help retain its present customers and gain new enrollees, it has retained Penna Powers for $2.8 million to work with the agency. Janel Davis told the directors the theme will be “You Cannot Afford To Be Without Insurance.” As an example, a person who has an emergency appendectomy could wind up with a $28,000 bill without insurance.

To help get out the word, the exchange is working with schools, chambers of commerce and other local groups. As an example, school children are given information to send to parents. And there will be workshops, television ads, videos and information at bus shelters. Davis said 75 percent will be spent in Clark County and the rest in Northern Nevada.

The exchange will continue to work with Health Plan of Nevada and SilverSummit to offer 14 coverage plans. Consumers in Clark, Nye and Washoe counties will be offered coverage in both companies. SilverSummit offers coverage in the rural counties.

Korbulic told the directors there’s a federal court suit in Texas by the Texas Attorney General and 18 other Republican attorney generals to overturn Obamacare. Democratic attorney generals have intervened to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

Enrollment starts Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15 in Nevada.