Sure, that class action lawsuit over botched Nevada Health Link coverage has grabbed headlines.
But not everyone who said they’ve been burned by the exchange wants to sign on to a big legal battle.
A reader named Philippe wrote to say he’s interested in going to small claims court over his plan problems.
Philippe said he has paid premiums to Nevada Health Link since April and didn’t get a policy in place until October. He wants a refund on premiums and out-of-pocket costs his family incurred while they waited for coverage to take effect. But he’s not sure how to proceed with a claim.
“I can’t afford an attorney but am just looking at getting my premiums back. I am not looking at making money damages,” Philippe wrote. “The problem is, I don’t know who to sue. Nevada Health Link, Xerox, the state? I could not find an active corporation named Nevada Health Link on the (Nevada secretary of state’s) website.”
So, Philippe, we’re not lawyers, and we can’t give you legal advice. No one we contacted was willing to do that without seeing you and your case details, either.
But the Civil Law Self Help Center in downtown Las Vegas has general advice on identifying the right defendant: The party you sue must have “some actual interest in the subject of your case and must be (at least arguably) responsible somehow for your injury.” Generally, if you sue over breach of contract, the defendant is the “person or business you contracted with.”
You can also sue more than one party at a time.
We can tell you that Xerox was responsible for collecting premium payments on behalf of Nevada Health Link, which is a state agency and not a private corporation. The payments were then supposed to be forwarded to insurers, but that didn’t always happen. Money that couldn’t be matched to enrollees has been held in a suspension account.
To sue in small claims court, your damages can’t exceed $7,500.
You also have to try to recover your money first through a demand letter letting the parties know you intend to sue to recover what you feel you’re owed. There’s a form letter at http://www.civillawselfhelpcenter.org/images/small-claims/demand-letter-fillable.pdf.
There are also rules about filing in a court system where the defendant lives, works or does business.
The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada holds a free small claims “Ask a Lawyer” program on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. That includes a session scheduled for Tuesday. The center recommends you arrive an hour before the session to sign up for your 15-minute slot. Sessions are in the Civil Law Self-Help Center at the Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave., from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
■ Rachel said she’s getting the runaround trying to enroll in exchange coverage. She applied through healthcare.gov but said she couldn’t open the list of options given to her. She called the agency’s 800 number and has been playing phone tag with no luck reaching a live customer-service rep.
“When I call them back, I get the same-ol’, same-ol’ — ‘Leave a message and we’ll call you back,’ ” Rachel wrote. “I’m so confused regarding who I go to to get insurance. My husband and I have only our (Social Security) checks coming in. He’s over 65 and has insurance. I need insurance very badly. Can you guide me to the right source?”
Because your computer wouldn’t cooperate and phoning in didn’t get you anywhere, Rachel, you have one option left: In-person help.
Nevada Health Link has a location in the Boulevard Mall, 3528 Maryland Parkway. The storefront is next to Macy’s and usually has more than two dozen insurance brokers and enrollment navigators on hand to help people find and buy coverage. You don’t need an appointment, and the assistance won’t cost you. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the 15th of each month.
You also can reach out directly to insurers if there’s a specific carrier or plan you would like. Nevada Health Co-Op, for example, has a walk-in center at 3900 Meadows Lane where you can meet with an enrollment counselor and sign up for one of the nonprofit’s plans. Call 702-823-2667 for an appointment.
Navigator groups also hold regular enrollment events. Consumer Assistance & Resource Enterprise representatives see consumers by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon Mondays and Wednesdays inside the the offices of the Las Vegas Urban League, at 3575 W. Cheyenne Ave. For an appointment, call 702-836-9033.