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No health insurance? Time to window-shop on state exchange

Updated October 5, 2020 - 3:21 pm

Nevadans without health insurance could begin on Thursday to “window-shop” for a plan on the state-operated exchange, which is offering almost double the number of plans as last year.

Insurance plans are available through the Nevada Health Link exchange to those who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare or don’t have insurance through an employer.

Residents can review plan options on the exchange website in advance of the open enrollment period that begins Nov. 1 and extends until Jan. 15, a month longer than in previous years.

“Pandemics are a very bad time to be without coverage, and we encourage people to take a look at the comprehensive options on the exchange,” Heather Korbulic, executive director of the state agency Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, said on Thursday.

Some residents who lost their jobs during the pandemic-caused recession became eligible for Medicaid coverage. Others who are returning to work may no longer be eligible for Medicaid, Korbulic said, noting, “we are actively pursuing these folks so that we can make sure they don’t lose coverage.”

The Nevada Division of Insurance has approved an average rate increase of 4.2 percent for plans on the exchange, which reflects increases in medical costs and the “potential impact of COVID-19,” Insurance Commissioner Barbara Richardson said in a news release this week. The average rate of increase for plans that are not part of the exchange is 5 percent.

Not only rates but subsidies offered for plans will be increasing, Korbulic said. In a typical year, 4 out of 5 of those on the exchange will qualify for a subsidy, and even more people probably will qualify this year.

The insurance plans offered on the exchange are all so-called qualified health plans that cover the 10 essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act. This year, Friday Health Plans and SelectHealth join returning carriers Health Plan of Nevada (HPN), SilverSummit (Ambetter) and Anthem HMO Co.

All 50 plans are available in Clark and Nye counties, with 35 to 45 plans offered in Nevada’s other counties.

Six carriers will offer 21 qualified dental plans to residents statewide. They include Alpha, EMI, Delta, Liberty, Best and Rocky Mountain.

“I think it’s really important for people to actively shop for a plan, and make sure that you’re looking at all the plans that are available,” Korbulic said. With new plans and new prices, “you might find a deal that’s better for you and your individual needs.”

There are 77,000 Nevadans purchasing insurance on the exchange.

For more information, visit nevadahealthlink.com.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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