Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2019

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Guest column:

Guest column: Nevada Health Link stands ready to help

It’s that time of year to start thinking about health insurance. For Nevadans who don’t have coverage through their employer or don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, securing health insurance can be daunting. Enter Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, Nevada’s state agency that helps individuals obtain budget-appropriate health coverage through the online marketplace, Nevada Health Link.

Through Nevada Health Link, Nevadans can shop for health insurance plans that fit their budgets and meet their families’ needs. It is also the only place where Nevadans can determine if they qualify for federal tax credits and subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance. Additionally, the exchange offers both English- and Spanish-speaking free enrollment assisters, who are certified and ready to help consumers.

As a longtime practicing Nevada physician, I treat patients of all ages from all walks of life. I know first-hand the value of insurance. Pregnancy, falling ill or sustaining an injury can be the unexpected or unplanned. So, having health insurance is a must for everyone, regardless of age, health or income. The pitfalls of being without health insurance are significant. Medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy, so health insurance not only protects consumers financially, it ensures they receive a higher quality of care.

This year, the exchange is transitioning away from healthcare.gov, to a fully operational state-based exchange. This change will improve the customer experience and make the enrollment process more straightforward. The state of Nevada will save more than $4 million for fiscal year 2020, alone, and the exchange will be better able to deliver targeted information to consumers. While these changes are significant, for consumers, the change will be somewhat invisible and will only make it easier to find and buy insurance.

In the world of health insurance, all things are not created equal. Consumers should be wary of short-term plans, which, while less expensive, do not meet Affordable Care Act requirements and do not cover many situations, such as preventative care, newborn/maternity care, substance abuse and mental or behavioral health issues. Similarly, health sharing ministries, which offer a shared plan to a like-minded group of people, also do not adhere to ACA or state requirements, so there is no guarantee your medical claims will be paid. You and your family deserve the affordable and comprehensive coverage that only qualified health plans on Nevada Health Link can offer.

Here are a few important dates to remember. Since Sept. 4, access codes have been sent via email and the U.S. Postal Service to Nevadans who previously enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov. Nevada Health Link encourages these consumers claim their accounts to prepare for open enrollment starting Nov. 1. Beginning Oct. 3, all Nevadans are invited to begin “window shopping” for a new health plan on NevadaHealthLink.com. And finally, open enrollment officially opens on Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15. During those six weeks, eligible Nevadans can select and purchase a plan that will protect them and their families throughout the coming year.

Last year, more than 83,000 Nevadans secured health insurance through the Exchange. For the coming year, protect yourself and your family. Call Nevada Health Link today at 1-800-547-2927.

Dr. Florence Jameson is the co-founder of Volunteers in Medicine Southern Nevada and is chair of the board of the Nevada Health Link.