Friday, July 26, 2013 | 5:56 p.m.
Preliminary costs for the upcoming mandatory federal health insurance coverage show it will be cheaper for Las Vegas residents to buy a policy than it will be for residents of other parts of the state.
State officials gave a preview Friday of how the Affordable Care Act will affect Nevadans. Four companies have signed up to offer health coverage through the state's Silver State Health Exchange.
Insurance Commissioner Scott Kipper said the rates are lower in Southern Nevada because of the competition.
For instance, it would cost a 40-year old individual in Clark County who bought a basic policy from Health Plan of Nevada $252 a month compared to $327 in Reno.
Individuals who earn less than $45,960 a year will receive a subsidy from the government. Kipper and Jon Hager, who heads the health exchange, said an individual would not pay more than $364 a month for a basic policy.
The policies must include such things as ambulatory and emergency room coverage, hospitalization, maternity, mental health and substance abuse, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, lab services, preventive care and pediatric coverage.
But there may be deductibles that the patient would have to pay.
Besides Health Plan of Nevada, other companies that have joined the state exchange are Anthem, Saint Mary's and Nevada Health CO-OP.
Kipper said the proposed premiums are not final and are being reviewed by his staff to see if they are too high or not adequate.
Signups can start Oct. 1 and the coverage kicks in Jan. 1. The exchange expects more than 100,000 Nevadans will use its services
There are various plans offered by the companies that can include extended coverage and lower deductibles. But these carry higher premiums.
Anthem proposes a monthly rate for a 40-year old individual at $273 in Southern Nevada for basic coverage, but it would be $304 in Washoe County and higher in the rural counties.
The rate at Saint Mary's for a 40 year old in Southern Nevada would be $233 a month compared to $311 in Reno. For Nevada Health CO-OP, the premium would be $242 in Clark County and $448 in Washoe County.
Kipper stressed there are a variety of factors involving this mandatory coverage and he invited consumers to call the state Insurance Division for help. The number in Las Vegas is 702-486-4009 and in Carson City it is 775-687-0700.
For individuals who don't purchase insurance coverage by March 31, 2004, there will be a $95 penalty or one percent of the income of the individual.
The state exchange is setting up phone centers to answer questions from consumers.
Kipper said it was too early to compare rates of insurance companies that signed up with the insurance exchange with those who chose not to since final rates have not been approved.