What Nevadans need to know about this year’s open enrollment for health insurance

Open Enrollment for health insurance started about two weeks ago, giving uninsured and underinsured Nevadans the opportunity to sign up for budget-appropriate, qualified health insurance through our online marketplace, Nevada Health Link. This means the staff and I at the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange have less than four weeks remaining to reach all eligible Nevadans statewide with one important message: no one can afford to be without insurance — regardless of health, age or life circumstance.

To learn about Nevada Health Link and to find out if you’re eligible, a pre-screening tool on our website can help. Of the consumers who enroll in one of our plans, over 80 percent of them qualify for federal subsidies and tax credits, helping reduce their out-of-pocket costs and assist in reducing the monthly premium. This year, rates on the Exchange are down slightly and that is good news for consumers looking to find affordable comprehensive health insurance.

Some Nevadans even qualify for very low to zero ($0) premium plans. But, because so many consumers opt out of exploring their options, significant dollars and monetary assistance goes unused, and more importantly, uninformed Nevadans aren’t getting the financial assistance for the health insurance coverage they need and deserve.

I live and breathe health insurance related policy, and I am still intimidated with the process of applying for health insurance, just as most people are. But Nevada Health Link is here to help guide consumers through what can otherwise be a complicated process.

One of our biggest hurdles this year is educating consumers on the critical differences between plans. Changes on the federal level have minimized health insurance requirements, making consumers even more vulnerable of purchasing plans that could leave them high and dry.

I can’t emphasize enough how imperative it is to read the fine print and understand that some plans may come with limitations — including those on pre-existing conditions and emergency visits — and don’t adhere to previous Affordable Care Act requirements.

If you already have a plan purchased, I still encourage you to reassess your coverage and shop the marketplace every year, because plan and rate changes occur each year. And remember that outside of Open Enrollment, there are certain changes in an individual’s life that make them eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, allowing them to enroll anytime during the year. Qualifying life events include loss of employer-based coverage, changes in income, and changes in family size through marriage, divorce or the birth or adoption of a child.

There are only a few things you need to enroll with the Exchange, such as a valid Nevada driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of Nevada residence and household income (the complete checklist is on our website). If you have any questions or need help finding in-person assistance near you, please visit us online (NevadaHealthLink.com), contact us by phone (1-855-768-5465) or email ([email protected]).

Heather Korbulic is the executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.