Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Nevada’s health exchange starts slow but is up and running

The Silver State Health Exchange will not be affected by the federal government shutdown, although it did get off to a late start today and still has some issues to work out.

The computer system for the much-praised and much-maligned Affordable Care system in Nevada started 17 minutes late. Jon Hager, director of the Silver State Health Exchange, said the call center opened as scheduled at 8 a.m., but the website was late getting online.

Nevada has received $74.8 million in federal money to operate the exchange.

Hager said the exchange office has received 500 telephone calls a day from people seeking information about the system, and there has not been any wait time.

The tools for a Spanish website won’t be ready until mid-November, but many of the advisers and brokers are bilingual, according to Hager.

Premiums posted today still have to be approved by the companies, which is expected by the end of the week. The four companies that have been certified to offer health insurance through the exchange have 45 different plans with varying costs that depend on factors such as deductible amount, the size of the family and the location. The out-of-pocket expense details will be available on the website “in a week or two,” Hager said.

There are an estimated 588,000 people under the age of 65 without health insurance in Nevada. The federal law requires them to get coverage by Jan. 1 or they will be fined. Eligibility has been expanded on Nevada’s Medicaid program, so many are expected to qualify for those benefits and will not be required to buy health insurance through the exchange.

Officials expect 118,000 people to apply for health coverage through the Silver State Health Exchange. Hager said he expects the majority of people will sign up in the exchange in late November or early December.

He conceded that things were “not all roses” and said corrections will be made in the coming weeks.

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