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Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Plans To Run Own Online Portal

Changes could be coming to Nevada's health insurance marketplace.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange plans to move its online portal to a state-run system, rather than using

And next month, insurance companies will meet with state officials to figure out how that might change rates.

Heather Korbulic is the executive director of the exchange and is working through some of the complexities of making the big change. 

She said the move to a state-run system is necessary because will start charging a fee for its system starting next year. 

Korbulic said it will cost the state about $12 million to pay for that system, while they could do it on their own for half that.

The fee for services is just one in a long line of changes, disruptions and uncertainty that has plagued the healthcare system for the past year.

One change that could have a major impact next year is the removal of the individual mandate. When Congress passed its massive tax reform bill last year, it eliminated the individual tax penalty for not having health insurance.

That change goes into effect next year and Korbulic said it is yet to be determined what impact it will have on Nevada's insurance market.

But she said the exchange is trying to educate people about the importance of getting health insurance even without the fear of a tax penalty.

"You don't get insurance because there is a tax penalty," she said. "You get insurance because it's the right thing to do to protect yourself and family."

And so far, people are getting that message. Korbulic said although the health insurance market has gone through more than a year of volatility, people in Nevada are still signing up.

“Despite all of that, the Nevada Health Insurance Exchange was able to enroll even more in this plan year,” she said.

The exchange enrolled around 2,000 more people this plan year than the year prior.

She said it shows the need for the kind of health insurance they offer.

Korbulic said one of the problems with the uncertainty from Washington revolves around how rates are set. Insurance companies rely on estimating their risk when they write rates for policies, but since the insurance climate has been changing so rapidly, the companies have had to bake that volatility into their rates.

As far as the exchange, Korbulic said they have worked to do what they could to protect consumers after facing hurdle after hurdle from Washington.

"We've been able to maximize consumer benefits throughout these theatrics," she said.

Korbulic said she is feeling positive about the industry as many in Congress move from the idea of "repealing and replacing" the Affordable Care Act to "stabilizing and fixing" it. 

Heather Korbulic, executive director, Silver State Health Insurance Exchange

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)