Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 | 12:48 p.m.
This year’s Obamacare open enrollment period closes by the end of the day Saturday, and Nevada’s governor-elect and health exchange director are urging residents to sign up.
Gov.-elect Steve Sisolak joined Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, at a news conference today to urge residents to sign up before Sunday.
“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Nevada had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country,” Sisolak said. “Thanks to the ACA, we’ve made enormous strides in reducing those numbers of uncovered, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Enrollments have been low for the most part this year, though there is usually a spike in the final week, Korbulic said. The new GOP tax law’s elimination of the Affordable Care Act penalty for not having insurance, called the individual mandate, may be one of several factors leading to low enrollment numbers this year, she has said.
“It is a busy time, it is the holiday season, but we’re asking you to focus on your health and the value that health insurance brings,” Korbulic said.
Sisolak said no one can afford to be without health insurance. He urged younger people in particular to enroll, saying even the healthiest residents need to be prepared for an injury or unexpected illness.
“It’s especially important for young people, millennials, to be covered,” he said. “I know that as millennials — I’ve got two as daughters — you think you’re invincible. But they’re not. No one is invincible when it comes to health care and illness and/or injury.”
Sisolak is setting up a patient protection commission that will look at issues such as short-term plans, which the Trump administration has extended and Korbulic has criticized for not covering essential health benefits required under the ACA. State law limits these plans to six months.
“We’ve had kind of a splintered approach to this entire thing, that’s why we want to bring a commission of professionals together that includes providers, that includes insurance companies, that includes the hospitals, the doctors, the nurses or whatnot, to come up with a plan that offers the most for all of our citizens.”
People can go to Nevada Health Link’s website or healthcare.gov to get started, or call either organization’s helpline. Korbulic said people will still have made the deadline if they reach out to the federal call center at 1-800-318-2596 and put their names on the list today, even if they do not receive a call back until Sunday or later.
People can go to offices in person to find help as well, Korbulic said, including at Three Square Food Bank and Galleria Mall, under the food court. The health exchange lists resources and contacts on its website.
“Insurance can be confusing,” Korbulic said. “Please work with a professional to find a plan that’s right for you and your individual needs.”