CARSON CITY — The insurance plan has been selected and paid for. So what should Nevada’s newly insured residents expect next?
For one thing, it may take a while for an insurance card to arrive in the mail.
CJ Bawden, spokesman for the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, said people who selected a plan by Monday’s Nevada deadline and pay for it by 6 p.m. Friday will have coverage beginning Jan. 1.
Once payment is made, the information will be electronically transmitted to the carrier chosen by the consumer. It could take a week for the carrier to receive the information and enter it into its system, Bawden said.
So the newly insured won’t immediately have an insurance card when the calendar rolls over to 2014 and the federal health care law requiring everyone to have health insurance takes full effect. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have coverage.
Consumers should call their carriers on or after Jan. 1 to verify coverage, Bawden said. If they want to schedule an appointment with a doctor, the carrier will be able to provide them a pending insurance number to give to the health care provider indicating eligibility.
For people who missed Monday’s deadline, there’s still time to obtain coverage and avoid a tax penalty.
“As long as they do it before Jan. 15, they will have coverage as of Feb. 1,” Bawden said. Plans chosen and paid for between Jan. 16 and Feb. 15 will take effect March 1.
After that, people have until March 31 to sign up and avoid a tax penalty imposed under the law, but policies selected in March won’t be effective until May 1.
Just because the first deadline to sign up has passed doesn’t mean activity on Nevada’s state-run online insurance portal, www.Nevadahealthlink.com, will subside. The exchange has a target enrollment of 118,000 by the end of March, and officials reported a surge in usage in the past few weeks.
Final enrollment numbers for the first signup period won’t be released until after Christmas, but exchange officials said the website has averaged 100,000 new users per week since mid-December.
That trend is expected to continue.
“We are expecting another surge, possibly a larger surge, in March,” Bawden said.
And many navigators and enrollment assistants report they are booked solid in the coming weeks with appointments to help consumers pick a plan and complete the enrollment process.