On Obamacare rumor patrol, there’s never a dull moment

We’re starting the day on Obamacare rumor patrol.

It’s definitely a busy job.

There’s confusion about the deadline to enroll in a qualified health plan, and that’s leading to some misunderstanding.

The Affordable Care Act gives you until March 31 to sign up and avoid the lack-of-coverage penalty, formally known as the “shared responsibility payment.” But there’s a catch: You have to wait as much as 45 days for your plan to take effect. So if you sign up on March 16, for example, your plan won’t kick in until May 1. That leaves you uncovered for a month after March 31.

Some online insurance companies, bookkeepers and accountants are interpreting that to mean you face a tax of up to 1 percent of your income for not having a plan in place before the enrollment deadline. That’s why you might be seeing emails, brochures and other marketing materials from industry professionals saying that you could owe the penalty even if you sign up by the end of March.

That was true until late October, when the Obama administration quietly changed the rules after consumers reported big problems buying coverage through federal and state exchanges. Now, as long as you enroll for coverage by March 31, you won’t face a penalty, even if your plan doesn’t take effect until May.

It’s also worth noting that the Affordable Care Act allows consumers to go without coverage penalty-free for as long as three months.

But don’t expect any more breaks: That March 31 deadline is the real deal. You won’t have another chance to buy until mid-November, unless you have a “qualifying life event” that changes your household’s dependent status (such as a birth) or your work status (such as a layoff).

■ Speaking of enrollment deadlines, local retiree Irene McHone is still not sure she’s been able to sign up on time.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported McHone’s story on Jan. 28, as part of a larger article on problems Nevadans are having with Nevada Health Link, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange’s website. McHone and friend Ray Ellis had been trying since fall to buy McHone coverage through the website and call center, but to no avail. When we checked in late January, McHone had found a plan, but hadn’t been able to pay for it electronically. That meant she wasn’t technically enrolled.

Ellis updated us Wednesday on the case. He said he mailed a $101 check on Jan. 30 to the exchange’s Henderson address. The check cleared Monday, Ellis said, but it’s still unclear whether McHone is covered. She hasn’t received any insurance cards, and her broker, Pat Casale, said Tuesday that he was having trouble accessing McHone’s account through Nevada Health Link. As of Thursday, Casale said, the insurance carrier had received McHone’s application, but could not verify it had received her payment.

So despite paying for coverage, McHone spent nearly $200 out of pocket Tuesday for medications to treat her chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. McHone “dares not to schedule any doctor’s appointments because she’s not sure she has any coverage,” Ellis said.

Casale said McHone’s copay should be reimbursed once her coverage is verified. But that didn’t keep Ellis from expressing major frustration.

“I never dreamed in a million years that five months later, it still would not be accomplished,” Ellis said of signing up McHone. “She’s really panicking. You’re talking about something life-threatening. We’re past the point where we can get any angrier. It’s almost like an acceptance at this point. We were annoyed it was so inefficient, but now it hits a certain point where you wonder if they are ever going to get it done.”

■ Subpar enrollments aren’t anything a little marketing can’t fix, right?

That seems to be the approach the Obama administration is taking to boost sign-ups as deadlines loom.

Obama’s Organizing for Action, a grass-roots group designed to spur support for the president’s legislative initiatives, is putting together its “final push for health care” — a contest with a grand prize that includes a meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 25 at the group’s National Organizing Summit.

“Millions of people are already seeing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. And millions more need to get covered before this year’s final deadline on March 31. You probably know a few folks yourself,” the group’s website says.

So it’s sending out email blasts asking for supporters willing to volunteer time online or offline “to help people get the facts.” Volunteer, as one email puts it, and you could get a “selfie” with Obama.

The Review-Journal’s political reporter, Laura Myers, told us the daily email campaign barrage resembles Obama’s get-out-the-vote effort in the final days of the 2012 presidential campaign.

It’s not the first public information blitz on behalf of the Affordable Care Act. The Associated Press reported in July that the Obama administration would spend $684 million nationwide on ads and public relations efforts to encourage people to enroll. That comes out to $228 each for the 3 million or so Americans who have chosen plans through state and federal exchanges.

■ “Young invincibles” make strides: Nevada Health Link has seen a slight uptick in its number of younger enrollees. As of Feb. 1, 27.1 percent of paid enrollees were under 35. That number was 26.8 percent on Jan. 18. Federal officials say the stat needs to be closer to 40 percent for exchanges to avoid the “death spiral” that comes from too few healthy, young enrollees and too many sicker, older ones.

■ Fun fact for your next cocktail party: Of the 22,597 Nevadans who have chosen a plan through Nevada Health Link, 66.4 percent, or 14,999 enrollees, had paid for their coverage as of Feb. 1. That’s better than in some states such as Washington, where just half have paid for coverage, but worse than a national estimate of 80 percent, according to a Monday report from Investor’s Business Daily.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
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)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like