Although Nevada has significantly reduced its uninsured population over the past two years, a substantial number of our citizens remain uninsured. Buying health coverage is not just a good idea, but required by law. Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance, but do not, are now subject to tax penalties.
Studies have shown that affordability of coverage is the single most important determinant of whether an individual purchases health insurance. The premium subsidies available through Nevada Health Link have helped thousands of Nevada residents purchase budget-friendly health plans — 87 percent of our customers receive premium assistance, which, on average, cuts the monthly cost of their health insurance by two-thirds.
Beginning Nov. 1, Nevadans will once again have the opportunity to sign up for health coverage through Nevada Health Link, an online marketplace that helped more than 73,000 Nevada consumers choose and enroll in affordable health plans last year. Our free service provides individuals, families and small business owners the opportunity to compare coverage options, determine their eligibility for subsidies that reduce monthly premium costs, and choose the plan and coverage best suited for their needs.
Consumers can shop for coverage from the comfort of their homes via our website — www.NevadaHealthLink.com — or by going directly to Healthcare.gov or carrier-specific websites. Even so, we always recommend that Nevadans take advantage of the free face-to-face assistance offered by brokers, agents and navigators, individuals who have been trained by Nevada Health Link to provide outreach and education about the enrollment process to local communities. They can assist in choosing the best, most affordable, income-based insurance option for individuals, families and small businesses, as well as help consumers determine whether they qualify for insurance affordability programs (including a premium tax credit, cost-sharing reductions, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program), then enroll them in coverage.
To make coverage purchases even easier, licensed insurance professionals across the state are participating in “Sign-Up Saturdays,” and on select dates during our open enrollment period, individuals will have the opportunity to make appointments with nearby assisters to discuss their insurance needs and concerns. Some brokers will also open their offices on select Tuesdays and Thursdays to accommodate those who cannot attend other events.
We are committed to bringing the opportunity for in-person assistance to all Nevadans, wherever they live. These events will be advertised through our social media channels and our website. Fliers will also be mailed to targeted ZIP codes.
Nevada Health Link was created to ensure all Nevadans have access to health insurance, no matter their income level. Only exchange-based plans such as ours can provide individuals with federal tax credits and subsidies to help cover their premium costs. I urge every eligible Nevadan to take the necessary measures to avoid the risk of penalties, and more importantly, to safeguard your family’s access to care in the event of an emergency or illness.
On Nov. 1, we are hosting health fairs in both Southern and Northern Nevada to kick off our enrollment season, which runs through Jan. 31, 2016. Many of our licensed enrollment professionals will be available to assist with applications and answer questions. In Southern Nevada, our event will be held at the College of Southern Nevada Charleston Campus from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In Northern Nevada, we kick off enrollment at the Reno Boys and Girls Club from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Please come see us. We will do everything we can to ensure you understand your coverage options and to help you choose the plan and coverage best suited for your needs.
— Bruce Gilbert is executive director of the Silver State Health Exchange.