Health coverage enhanced

new law lowers premiums, increases eligibility for Nevadans

PHOTO/DREAMSTIME: Nevada Health Link now offers health insurance plans that include dental benefits.

Thanks to recent federal pandemic relief measures, more Nevadans than ever now qualify for low- or no-cost health insurance plans – if they sign up by the extended May 15 deadline.

The state exchange is revamping its website and rules to comply with the new requirements, even as more enhancements of the Affordable Cares Act are expected. The agency hopes to do that by April 19, but officials said residents are urged to visit the Nevada Health Link site to see if they now qualify for the plans.

An income calculator to determine applicants’ eligibility for the subsidized plans is available on the agency’s American Rescue Plan page.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange connects Nevadans with health plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act through Nevada Health Link. Premiums have been reduced and new health insurance options have been added to the agency’s offerings. Those who lost income and/or employer-provided health insurance during the pandemic are urged to apply for coverage, according to Heather Korbulic, executive director of the state exchange.

She said the federal changes mean that the exchange can now provide coverage for “an unprecedented number of Nevadans who previously were not eligible for subsidized health insurance, including Nevadans making over 400% of the federal poverty level.”

Lower premiums for comprehensive health coverage also families to allocate more of their budgets to other essential needs. Nevadans who have received unemployment insurance payments in 2020 may now have access to plans with zero-dollar premiums.

More changes expected

Those who sign up for coverage before May 15 will be able to take advantage of the enhanced coverage for this year and for 2022, Korbulic said. Nevada Health Link anticipates more federal rule changes that will allow consumers to change plans to go into effect in mid-June. That means some consumers will have an opportunity to change their plans between mid-June and Aug. 15.

“Nevada Health Link is currently working with its technology vendor, insurance carriers
and stakeholders to implement these changes as expeditiously as possible to ensure a seamless and streamlined process for applicants seeking coverage,” she said. “Those changes include modifying consumer tools on Nevada Health Link and highlighting the new changes made possible through the American Rescue Plan.”

Korbulic noted that last month marked the 11th anniversary of the ACA, a landmark reform law which she said increased access to quality healthcare for millions of Americans. Under that measure, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange that has provided healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who would otherwise be without coverage but are now guaranteed to receive critical healthcare services.

11% remain uninsured

Since the passage of the ACA and the implementation of Nevada Health Link, Nevada’s number of uninsured residents has decreased “from a staggering 23 percent to 11 percent,” she said. The  American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 built on that success, she said, with expanded subsidies, lower premiums and access to applying for health insurance outside of the traditional Open Enrollment windows.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for comprehensive health coverage.

“While it’s never a good idea to be without health insurance, the pandemic elevated the healthcare conversation, illuminating the need for health insurance and reminding us that illness does not discriminate,” Korbulic said.

45 plans offered

In Washoe County, the state exchange now offers 45 plans, at different levels, available from HPN, SilverSummit, Anthem HMO Co. and Friday Health Plans. The Friday Health Plans, added to the state’s offerings last year, also cover gig workers, freelancers, and people who depend on tips for the bulk of their incomes — groups previously ineligible for standard plans.

Available plans include vision, dental and mental health coverage.

Details about enrollment and other updates are available at Visit NevadaHealthLink.com. Nevada Health Link also may be reached by calling: 1-800-547-2927, or via email at CustomerServiceNVHL@exchange.nv.gov.

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