Nevada officials on Monday called on the 350,000 uninsured state residents to take advantage of the 2022 open enrollment period for health insurance via the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.
The exchange added two additional carriers, expanding to seven total with 126 health plans and 20 dental plans. Insurance through the exchange is ideal for residents who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid; don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance such as independent contractors and gig workers; or new residents. Open enrollment runs from Monday through Jan. 15.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to affordable health care,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said during a virtual news conference. “It’s a matter of education and getting the word out. There are options that are available for everyone if they just pursue that. No one should go without health insurance, and I think that the pandemic has brought that to light that it’s necessary for everyone to have.”
Heather Korbulic, executive director of the exchange, said 90 percent of Nevadans qualify for discounted rates offered through American Rescue Plan funding. The tax credits help lower monthly premiums for people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or an annual income of $51,520 for one person.
“The biggest, most common misconception we hear from folks is that they can’t afford it,” Korbulic said.
“We spent a lot of time building relationships with community organizations and navigator entities and doing a lot of outreach, trying to make sure that people understand that there is financial assistance available to them, and that there are people who can help you navigate for free to the plans that are right for your individual needs and for your budgetary needs,” she said. “Many people are finding that they’re qualified for way more subsidy or financial assistance than they ever dreamed was possible.”
State leaders said the insurance options are key to bringing health equity to the state. They highlighted free assistance services — available online, over the phone or in person — offered in multiple languages to help navigate the exchange.
Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, of Las Vegas, noted the disparities in insurance rates among communities of color. For instance, 22 percent of Hispanic residents are uninsured compared with 9 percent of white residents.
Resources such as certified insurance brokers and navigators are available throughout the state, including translation services that can help people find the best insurance plan for them.
“I know personally for my family, that understanding health care in your native language is imperative to understanding your own health and being able to advocate for your own health options and health treatments,” Nguyen said. “It’s particularly important that our communities of color take this opportunity to learn more about their options and get covered.”
Coverage for those who enroll before Dec. 31 will begin Jan. 1. Coverage for anyone who enrolls between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15 will begin Feb. 1. Details are available via NevadaHealthLink.com.
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.
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