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May 23, 2018

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Obamacare enrollment up in Nevada, despite obstacles

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Alex Brandon / AP

In this Oct. 18, 2017, photo, the Healthcare.gov website is seen on a computer screen.

Nevada’s health insurance exchange signed up a record number of people in health plans this year, despite a shorter enrollment period.

Almost 91,000 Nevada residents enrolled in so-called Obamacare plans through the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, up from 89,061 last year, the agency reported today. The 2017 enrollment period was shortened to about half what it was in 2016.

“Given the shortened enrollment period and the federal uncertainty surrounding the healthcare marketplace, I am pleased the 2018 enrollment numbers have exceeded enrollment from 2017,” Gov. Brian Sandoval, the first Republican governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said in a statement.

Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Nevada exchange, has previously pointed to challenges such as the shorter enrollment period and the healthcare.gov website shutting down for short periods on weekends.

She also noted Wednesday that people were not allowed to submit late applications that they had started before Friday’s enrollment deadline.

Uncertainty about the program’s future also led to changes in providers offering plans on the exchange. Congress failed to repeal the ACA several times this year before Republicans succeeded in eliminating the individual mandate through tax reform.

The individual mandate was intended to encourage healthy individuals to enter the marketplace by requiring people to sign up for insurance or pay a tax penalty of $695 a year or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever was greater.

“Despite the challenges of this year’s open enrollment period and the political rhetoric surrounding the Affordable Care Act, the exchange saw firsthand how much our citizens want and need health coverage,” Korbulic said in a statement today.

Almost 28,000 enrollees in Nevada this year were new customers. Those who missed the Friday deadline may still be eligible to enroll during the year under certain circumstances, such as changes in income or family size.