Homework begins for Nevadans on picking insurance

Homework begins for Nevadans as health insurance exchange prepares to go live

Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Nevadans have their homework cut out for them to prepare for implementation of federal health care reform and a requirement that everyone has health insurance beginning next year.

State officials Wednesday released approved rates for health insurance policies that will be offered on and off Nevada's health insurance exchange that begins enrollment Oct. 1 for coverage effective Jan. 1.

Four carriers are offering policies on the exchange for 2014. Coverage areas are broken into four regions — Clark and Nye counties; Washoe County; Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties; and the rural areas encompassing Nevada's remaining 10 counties.

Only two carriers, Nevada Health Co-op and Anthem, are offering overall plans on the exchange in all four regions. The other carriers are Saint Mary's and Health Plan of Nevada, which exclude rural coverage.

Determining how much coverage will cost depends on where you live, how old you are and annual income.

For example, a 40-year-old in Clark or Washoe counties seeking a "silver" tiered plan will have a choice of 16 different policies offered on the exchange. In Clark County, the monthly premiums range from $237 to $307. In Washoe County, those premiums vary from $304 to $448.

There are fewer choices in other regions of the state.

A 40-year-old living in Carson City can choose from five options, with prices ranging from $363 to $458. In rural areas such as Elko, only two policies are offered, costing $455 or $475.

People making less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level — $45,960 for an individual or $94,200 for a family of four — can receive a federal tax credit that will offset the monthly premium.

But tax credits are only available if policies are purchased through the state exchange, called Nevada Health Link, found at www.nevadahealthlink.com.

"If you don't go through the exchange, you can't get the tax credit," said Jon Hager, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.

Scott Kipper, Nevada's insurance commissioner, said if people don't qualify for a tax credit, "then it behooves you to shop both inside and outside the exchange."

Consumers can begin comparing plans and costs on the Division of Insurance website, www.doi.nv.gov. What's not yet available is a list of health care providers in each carrier's network, and Kipper said it's up to individual doctors and health care providers to decide whether they will participate in a carrier's network.

Hager said consumers will be able to search for doctors on the exchange website to see if they participate in a particular plan.

Help navigating the process will be available through a call center and on-site locations staged at various agencies, hospitals and organizations, officials said. About 1,200 private insurance brokers are also expected to be trained to sell coverage through the exchange.

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