It’s insurance season and time to shop 2016 health plans

It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means.

No, it’s not time to buy some candy and swill another pumpkin spice latte.

Better than that, it’s insurance season! Come Sunday, you’ll be able to shop 2016 health plans online and through local insurance brokers.

Before you go back to your bags of fun-size Snickers and your sugary coffee, stick with us for just a minute, because ignoring us could cost you: If you don’t have health coverage, you could face a noncoverage tax of 2.5 percent of your household income or $695, whichever is higher. Uncovered families will see a maximum penalty of $2,085.

If you’re insured through work, you’re probably set. Most employer-based plans offer the minimum benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.

No employer-sponsored coverage? No problem — Nevada’s individual insurance market has dozens of plans, including federally subsidized policies that give you a tax credit to cover your premium. Subsidy eligibility will depend in part on your age and plan, but in general, you qualify if you make between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty wage. At the low end, that’s $15,521 for a household of one and $31,721 for a family of four. At the high end, that’s 46,680 for a single-person household and $95,400 for a family of four.

If your income falls below $15,521 to $31,721, you may be eligible for Medicaid, which provides coverage for free.

You can avoid that federal penalty as long as you have a plan by Jan. 31.

What’s new?

The upcoming enrollment session will be the third sign-up period under the Affordable Care Act.

Some things will look different from past periods.

“A lot of the plans have just totally changed,” said Brent Leavitt, an insurance broker and Certified Financial Planner with Nevada Benefits in Las Vegas. “They have different copays and different deductibles. Some of them are more generous, but some of them are more stingy. You can’t expect things to just roll over. Be cognizant that your new plan may not be 100 percent what you had.”

You’ll also see a change in insurers selling through Nevada Health Link.

Two carriers have left the marketplace. Assurant announced in June that it would shutter its nationwide individual insurance division after it couldn’t find a buyer for the segment.

And Nevada Health CO-OP, a Las Vegas nonprofit created to provide competition on the exchange, will close Jan. 1 due to high claims costs and limited forecasts for enrollment growth.

At the same time, Reno-based Prominence will offer its first-ever Southern Nevada plans.

Prominence joins industry giants UnitedHealth Group and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield on the exchange. Prominence and UnitedHealth will sell HMO plans, while Anthem will offer both HMO and PPO coverage.

You’ll have more choice off of the exchange, so if you don’t qualify for a federal subsidy, there’s no point for you to buy through the marketplace, Leavitt said. Eighteen carriers are selling coverage outside the exchange. There’s little to no difference in level of benefits available on or off the exchange, because the Affordable Care Act requires all plans to offer the same essential health coverage.

Out-of-network coverage may be one other reason to kick tires outside the exchange., a California-based website that compares and ranks insurance plans, released an Oct. 7 report giving Nevada poor marks for access outside of networks. Just 14.6 percent of the state’s exchange-based plans covered out-of-network medical bills. That was the third-worst share in the nation, after South Dakota (zero percent) and New Jersey (10.2 percent).

What’s old?

Unlike enrollment a year ago, Nevada Health Link doesn’t need to switch to a new sign-up platform. The exchange will borrow the federal system for a second straight year.

The agency plans to boost its call center from six people to 10 to handle calls from consumers who have questions during enrollment, said spokeswoman Janel Davis.

Also, as long as income is steady, premiums will stay relatively unchanged for subsidized plans, Leavitt said. Premiums on the exchange will rise an average of 8.7 percent, but federal tax credits should also increase to cancel out most of the gain, he said.

Premiums for off-exchange coverage will be up 9.6 percent on average.

Leavitt added that he expects the number of sign-ups to be “about the same” the 2014 session, when his firm enrolled roughly 500 people through the exchange. About 70,000 signed up statewide for exchange-based coverage for the 2015 plan year.

“Hopefully, it’ll be pretty routine,” Leavitt said. “If people know what they’re going to buy, the renewal process takes only five minutes or so.”

What’s next?

Nevada Health Link plans a Sunday enrollment health fair to kick off sign-up season. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the College of Southern Nevada’s campus at 6375 W. Charleston Blvd., will feature insurance brokers and enrollment assistants to walk consumers through eligibility and application. Attendees learn about what kind of federal tax credit they can receive to help pay premiums.

The exchange also plans a number of sign-up and pop-up events through the enrollment period. It’s set to launch a barrage of fliers, mailers and ads to get the word out, Davis said.

“We’re really getting out there to get the word out and keep our enrollment number the same or even higher,” she said.

Consumers who want additional face time with an insurance professional will still be able to work with licensed brokers. Nevada Health Link has a broker search tool on its website that lets consumers find help in their ZIP code.

Contact Jennifer Robison at Find @_JRobison on Twitter.

Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like