Nevada exchange signups lag, despite push

A late push of public outreach events helped escalate signups on Nevada’s health exchange, but final tallies still fell short of enrollment goals.

Nearly 42,000 people selected qualified health plans through the state’s online web portal, Nevada Health Link, by the deadline Monday. Of those, about 26,000 have actually paid for coverage. Consumers have until April 15 to pay their premiums for coverage effective May 1.

Steve Fisher, interim director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, said enrollment activity “swelled” as the deadline neared.

“The successful enrollment events in Las Vegas and Reno on Saturday combined with the extraordinary number of Nevadans enrolling on Monday pushed the enrollment numbers to the current levels,” he said in a statement.

But those levels are nowhere near original targets that proved overly optimistic after months of ongoing problems with computer failures, billing errors and early understaffing at support centers.

Exchange officials initially set a goal of 118,000. But in February, they tamed expectations to 50,000 because of ongoing flaws in the system built by Xerox that left many people frustrated and unable to enroll.

Because of those problems, the state approved a 60-day special enrollment to complete the process for anyone who attempted to sign up since Oct. 1. That period began April 1 and runs through May 30.

Xerox officials estimated as many as 77,000 consumers may have tried without success to buy coverage through the state-run exchange set up under President Obama’s health care reform law, though the probability of how many will actually take advantage of the grace period was estimated at somewhere between 18,000 and 44,000.

While signups for private insurance coverage has lagged expectations, enrollment in Nevada Medicaid has surged beyond projections.

The exchange reported more than 139,000 applications were received for Medicaid coverage. That does not include applications submitted directly to the state Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Under federal health care reform, states were given the option to expand Medicaid eligibility. Since Jan. 1, Nevada for the first time allows adults without children to qualify if they make no more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. For a single adult, that limit is about $16,000 a year.

Last month, state Health and Human Service Director Mike Willden said Medicaid enrollments had surpassed projections and were on pace to reach 500,000 by summer, a mark initially not expected to be reached until the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

Updated Medicaid enrollment figures were not immediately available early Thursday.


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