85°F
weather icon Clear

Insurance co-op reports high volume in Obamacare debut

With the opening of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, which launched this week as part of the Affordable Care Act, one insurance cooperative serving the greater Nye County area reports it has received a high volume of calls from potential customers expressing interest in their product and seeking assistance in the insurance enrollment process.

The Nevada Health Co-Op, a non-profit insurance company controlled by its members, began accepting applications for coverage Tuesday as Nevadans across the state are facing a mandate under the Affordable Care Act that they be insured by the start of the coming year.

According to the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, more than 588,000 people under the age of 65 in Nevada are without health insurance.

By Wednesday evening, more than 24 hours after the Nevada health insurance exchange opened for business, approximately 63,000 people had visited the exchange website and 18,806 accounts were created on Nevada Health Link.

Bobbette Bond, a member of Nevada Health Co-Op’s leadership team, said the insurance company’s call center received hundreds of calls from potential customers in the first day alone.

Bond said NHC is one of several providers Nevada consumers can choose from on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange and that the company currently offers plans for both individuals and small companies of 50 employees or less who are seeking insurance.

“We’ve got plans statewide and in the South that really includes most of the Pahrump readers — Esmeralda County, Nye County, Lincoln County and Clark County, that’s considered the Southern Nevada Tier for us. In that world we have both individual and shop plans and they’re both offered on and off the exchange,” she said. “It’s a PPO network so people have a choice and we’ve contracted with quite a few doctors and they can use that PPO network in either the individual or shop. In the individual it can be bronze, silver, gold or catastrophic, and in the shop it can be gold, silver, or bronze and (employers) can purchase or help their employees purchase their insurance.”

The difference between the plans offered on and off the health exchange comes down to the way customers must complete enrollment for those plans, Bond explained.

“Individuals who are subsidy eligible really need to go on the exchange to finish their enrollment and select a plan because they can’t use the subsidy if they’re not attached to the exchange.” she explained. “Anybody who’s eligible for subsidies can enroll through the exchange, but they can come to our website first, get set up, call our people and select their plan and then our customer service is going to walk them over to the exchange and finish that for them. So we do the whole thing regardless, but they have to finish on the exchange to get the subsidy.”

The benefit of going off the exchange for those who aren’t eligible to receive government assistance in paying their insurance premiums is the off exchange enrollment process is faster and has less steps.

“Off the exchange is faster. If you know you’re not eligible for a subsidy, you don’t really need to go on the exchange to get coverage, because it is a much faster process off the exchange, you don’t have to enter your family income, your family size, its fewer application requirements off the exchange. And you can do both of those through our website,” Bond said.

As NHC continues to enroll customers for the 2014 coverage year, Bond said the co-op is working to set up plans off the exchange for larger companies with more than 50 employees for the future.

Though there were some reports of issues with the state health exchange website Tuesday as large numbers of Nevadans attempted to access it, Bond said the NHC call center employees were still able to get customers the majority of the way through the enrollment process on their end before scheduling a later time to complete the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange enrollment process.

“There’s a lot more questions than we expected and there are very short call wait times on our phones so it’s great for people to call us,” Bond said.

“Our website is active and live and has a couple of small issues we’re working out, like next week Spanish will be on there, and having a search for provider function, we’re building that, but other than that you can do a lot on our website now. And by using our subsidy calculator people can figure out if they’re eligible for help. I think it will really help guide people whether or not to go on the exchange or staff off the exchange. Those are the main things. And I do want people to know the Nye County Medical Center is in our network, so that’s good. We have a lot of providers in Tonopah and Pahrump actually,” she added.

For more information on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange visit http://exchange.nv.gov/

For more information on the Nevada Health Co-Op visit http://nevadahealthcoop.org/ or call 702-823-COOP (2667).

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
IN SEASON: Okra, a southern favorite for your western garden

Okra may be considered a staple crop in the American South, but it also grows very well in our hot dry climate. As a member of the mallow family, it puts on a stunning display of delicate yellow flowers.

Special legislative session scheduled to open Friday

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday issued the formal proclamation to call the Nevada Legislature into a special session beginning 9 a.m. Friday, July 31 to address significant policy issues that cannot wait until the regularly scheduled legislative session. This will be the 32nd special session in Nevada’s history.

Report chronicles massive decline in fish populations

With hydroelectric power, overfishing, climate change and pollution on the rise, monitored populations of migratory freshwater fish species have plummeted by 76% on average since 1970, according to the first comprehensive global report on the status of freshwater migratory fish issued this week by the World Fish Migration Foundation and Zoological Society of London.

AngloGold Ashanti gains exploration project permit

The administrator of the Division of Environmental Protection has decided to issue a reclamation permit for an exploration project to AngloGold Ashanti North America.

Immunizations remain required part of back-to-school routines

As parents continue to navigate what back to school looks like this year, one aspect of the ritual that hasn’t changed is making sure kids are up to date on their vaccines. Whether families choose in-person, hybrid or distance learning models for the fall 2020 school session, Nevada law requires immunizations for child care, school and university entry, with the exception of religious exemptions or a medical condition.

DMV will offer renewals online, by mail this fall

Nevada motorists who have been unable to make an appointment at DMV offices before their expiration date will benefit from two new initiatives announced Tuesday by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Nye County Civic Center proposal presented

In 2016, when Valley Electric Association was aiming to sell a 200-kilovolt transmission line and needed a vote of approval by its members in order to do so, one of the selling points for that sale was the promise that if it went through, VEA would donate $5 million toward the construction of a new community center. It may have taken nearly three years after the transmission sale was executed but VEA did finally make good on that promise, offering the $5 million donation to Nye County, with the Nye County Commission voting to accept it in September 2019.

NCSD superintendent lays out school reopening plans

Earlier this month, the Nye County School District Board of Trustees approved the district’s COVID-19 re-entry plan, which laid out three models for returning students and staff to school safely.

Pahrump elementary schools to observe hybrid education model

With less than a month left before youth across Nye County are scheduled to begin the new school year, the Nye County School District has announced a change in its school re-entry plans, switching Pahrump area K-5 schools from the originally selected 100% in-person education model to the hybrid model that requires students to conduct their learning online three days out of the five-day school week.