Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 | 2 a.m.
From now through Jan. 15, relief is available for the approximately 350,000 Nevadans who lack health insurance, including those who lost their employer-sponsored health coverage during the pandemic.
The beginning of November brought the start of the latest open enrollment period for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act via the Nevada Health Link, our state’s ACA marketplace. Nevada Health Link offers 126 health and dental plans from an array of different insurers, providing options that cover an enormous range of needs and family budgets.
We implore uninsured Nevadans to contact the health link and explore the many offerings. (See contact information below.) There’s no need to suffer the stress and uncertainty of going without coverage, thanks to the availability of federal subsidies to offset premiums — subsidies for which nearly 90% of Nevadans qualify.
How affordable are ACA plans? According to information provided by the Nevada Health Link for a hypothetical family of four in Clark County making $56,500, this family could qualify for $903 in advanced premium tax credit benefits, resulting in monthly premium of $119 for a $1,022-per-month plan.
(Keep in mind that the costs will vary based on such factors as age and health risks such as smoking.)
Health officials say the biggest myth they encounter from Nevadans who are hesitant to seek ACA coverage is that they can’t afford it. But Heather Korbulic, the executive director of the state agency that operates the health link, says that not only are affordable plans available, but in many cases they’re less costly than people think.
“Many people are finding they’re qualified for more financial assistance than they ever thought was possible,” Korbulic said during a news conference to kick off the open enrollment period.
The ACA has been a resounding success in Nevada, reducing the rate of uninsured Nevadans by more than 20% from a decade ago.
But the rate still hovers at 11%, which is still too high given the robust availability of coverage here.
That’s especially the case in communities of color, which, due to a number of reasons, face a stark disparity in health care coverage. For example, 22% of Hispanics remain uninsured compared with only 9% of white Nevadans.
To address this imbalance, the health link offers a large group of licensed enrollment professionals to help Nevadans navigate the system in their preferred language. These helpful navigators are available by contacting the health link and also can be visited in person at various community locations, including the Boulevard and Meadows malls in Las Vegas. Although walk-ins are welcome, officials recommend making an appointment at those community sites.
While urging all uninsured Nevadans to seek out coverage, state officials also are advising current ACA policy holders to revisit their options. In some cases, officials said, better plans with lower premiums might be available.
In Monday’s news conference, Gov. Steve Sisolak also encouraged healthy Nevadans to look into getting coverage.
“If you wait until you need it, it’s already too late,” he said.
For uninsured Nevadans, obtaining coverage not only helps themselves but also is a terrific way to protect their neighbors and strengthen their communities. Public health improves when the uninsured rate falls, partly because individuals with health insurance tend to take advantage of preventive care and get early treatment for illnesses, which helps stop the spread of diseases.
For state Sen. Fabian Donate, D-Las Vegas, the mission to extend health care coverage to all Nevadans has a personal connection. His career in public health began when, as a teenager, his father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and Donate became the family’s interpreter with health care providers. Fortunately, Donate’s father is a longtime staff member at the Strat, and had health coverage.
“If my parents did not have the insurance they did, I definitely don’t feel like my dad would have received the care he needed,” Donate said during the news conference.
These days, thanks to the ACA and the health link, there’s a much stronger safety net for Nevadans. All it takes is making contact with the system between now and Jan. 15, through a phone call or email.
• For a full list of licensed navigators available in communities throughout Nevada, visit nevadahealthlink.com/find-assistance.
• To schedule an appointment at Meadows mall, call 702-425-5500 or email [email protected].
• To schedule an appointment at Boulevard mall, call 702-242-3200 or email [email protected].
• For customer assistance from the Nevada Health Link, call 800-547-2927 or email [email protected].
This content was originally published here.