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The open enrollment period for Nevada’s health insurance exchange begins on Nov. 1 — a rare bit of Affordable Care Act certainty this year.
Heather Korbulic, executive director of Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, said doubts sown by efforts to overturn ACA have led to higher premiums and fewer options for those who purchase coverage on the exchange.
“We did endure, what, seven months almost of rhetoric and bills regarding repeal and replace?” she said.
Korbulic said Gov. Brian Sandoval has made it clear he does not want to undo the progress the state has made under the ACA, cutting the share of uninsured Nevadans from 23 percent in 2014 to 11 percent today.
But Korbulic and the governor really can only do so much without some stability from Washington, D.C., which Korbulic says is behind the rise in premiums around the country.
“Let’s talk about what is causing those increases, first and foremost, instability," she said "The piece of instability that is most talked about and that is dire and critical to having some certainty around is cost-sharing reductions,”
She explained that cost-sharing reductions are subsidies from the government to health insurance companies to help keep out-of-pocket costs down for people getting insurance through an exchange.
And those payments were already built into the plans the insurance company were selling for 2017.
"We need to fulfill our commitment and see that those are paid," she said. She also believes the government needs to agree to a two-year commitment to pay those cost-sharing reductions to help stabilize the whole system.
Another big problem that had to be addressed before open enrollment was the loss of an insurance company to cover 14 of Nevada's rural counties. Gov. Sandoval got on the phone and secured Silver Summit Insurance to provide health insurance to those counties.
Korbulic said that is helpful but Nevada still needs more providers to offer more plans.
“We are not out of the water, in terms of instability, nationally or in our state" she said, "And I would say of course it concerns me not to have a vibrant and competitive marketplace. We’re very grateful and fortunate to have coverage and plans available on those areas but we’d like to see competition because that way consumers have more of a choice and they have an ability to choose what might be more affordable to them.”
Most people in Nevada and around the country get health insurance through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid. The exchanges are available for people who own their own business like farmers or ranchers. It is also for people who are independent contractors like artists or musicians.
Korbulic said those using the health insurance exchange should look at their options immediately because things have changed.
“There are different plans and there are different networks and it is in your best interest and your families best interest to sit and visit with a licensed enroll professional to make sure that you’re getting the best deal for yourself and that you’re finding the right plan that will have the physicians you’re going to work with,” she said.
Call: 855-7-NVLINK (855-768-5465)
Heather Korbulic, executive director, Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange