Back to Nevada Health Link and How This Change Affects You
Re-posted on 10/30/19
The Transition Away from HealthCare.gov
As a Nevada resident, if you purchase an individual health insurance plan that has a Government Subsidy, you currently do that through HealthCare.gov. That’s all getting ready to change, AGAIN! While Nevada already has a state-run exchange called Nevada Health Link, the state is steadily working towards having its own enrollment platform ready to be used by the fall of 2019.
This isn’t the first time that the state has attempted to make the leap. A few years ago, Nevada ran its own exchange. Unfortunately, there were too many technical problems to iron out, and in 2015, the state made the switch to HealthCare.gov’s enrollment platform. This provided a better customer service experience for Nevadans, and made health insurance more easily accessible.
The rest of the state-run exchange was left in place, allowing for a significant amount of autonomy. For example, Nevada is the only state in the nation where plans purchased outside the exchange are available year-round, not just during the enrollment period. While subsidies are not available for an off-exchange plan, meaning that enrollees pay full price for their coverage outside of the Governments website, this provides Nevadans with flexibility that residents in other states don’t enjoy. This is a tremendous benefit here in Nevada. We truly are very blessed and lucky to have this benefit.
Using the Government’s Healthcare.gov website provided a much better user experience, but unfortunately, that came at a pretty significant cost. This fall, Nevada residents who purchase individual health insurance coverage will likely do so through Nevada’s own “Exchange”.
Why the Switch Back To Nevada Health Link?
There are several reasons for the transition away from HealthCare.gov. Ultimately, the goal is to provide Nevadans with more affordable health insurance coverage, easier access to the plans that they need, cost the member and the State less money, and have our own State autonomy.
Trimming Down Costs
The primary reason for the switch is to bring down operating costs. In 2018, the federal government charged states that had a state-run exchange but used the HealthCare.gov enrollment platform, like Nevada, a fee that is equal to about 2% of premiums. In 2019, that fee increased to 3%. While this is still lower than the fee paid by states that rely fully on the federally run exchange, the cost is notable. Nevada’s exchange leadership is confident that the state-run platform, which uses better technology, will be considerably less expensive than paying a fee equal to 3% of premiums to continue using HealthCare.gov.
Once Nevada Health Link has fully transitioned to its own platform, the costs associated with leasing the HealthCare.gov platform will no longer apply. This will significantly cut down on technology fees and costs associated with operating a call center. In fact, switching to its own enrollment platform will save Nevada over $18 million for the duration of the contract. On top of that, it will provide a better user experience while giving the Marketplace more efficient access to data and trends to further improve marketing efforts.
Nevada Health Link projected that leasing costs to use HealthCare.gov would amount to well over $13 million in 2020. By operating its own marketplace, the state will only pay out a little over $5 million for a five-year contract, saving millions of dollars in operating costs over time. These lower costs mean lower rates for health insurance providers and savings that may be passed along to consumers.
Better Access to Health Insurance Coverage
Along with financial considerations, the transition away from HealthCare.gov will enable more Nevadans to access health insurance coverage. Nevada Health Link has obtained state-of-the-art technology that provides a more intuitive, streamlined user experience. This will equip Nevadans with better self-help tools, giving them the ability to do more on their own, and reduce the need for waiting on the phone to get help with routine questions and problems, thus speeding up the application process.
Nevada Health Link will also have better access to meaningful customer data, providing valuable insight into what Nevadans need and what their health insurance experience should provide. This will better allow the Exchange to keep their existing customers and show how recruitment efforts should be directed. If there is a particular region or demographic that is having difficulty obtaining health insurance coverage, Nevada Health Link will be in a better position to address it. Through access to real-time enrollment data, Nevada Health Link will be able to more easily identify successful outreach and marketing and be able to improve advertising campaigns across the board, improving enrollment and eventually reducing costs even more.
Maintaining Nevada’s Autonomy
State autonomy is a high priority for Nevadans and is essential in ensuring that state residents have access to the health insurance coverage that they need. Currently, Nevada’s Exchange has been largely subject to the rules set at the federal level for HealthCare.gov. By transitioning to a state-based exchange, Nevada Health Exchange will have full autonomy and the freedom to run its own marketplace and focus on the needs of Nevadans.
Currently, there are 12 other states that already operate their own private enrollment platforms, giving Nevada Health Link the ability to use tested and proven technology and innovative, unique tools that are specifically designed for state-based marketplaces. This will allow for a user-friendly experience with greater flexibility and enrollment administration.
The State-Based Exchange Transition Timeline
Obviously, transitioning to a private enrollment platform is a huge undertaking, and it isn’t going to happen overnight. In the middle of August 2018, the state officially entered into a contract with GetInsured and the design and the development process began. In February and March of 2019, systems integration testing began to ensure that all the software was functioning and working together as it should. Starting in April, developers began testing the migration of existing customer data from HealthCare.gov.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2019, consumer data will continue to be carried over from the federal Marketplace, and by the end of August, training for carriers and health insurance enrollment professionals will be completed.
In September, the website will launch and the call center will open, and in October, customers will be able to go online and view available health insurance plans. Beginning in November, customers will be able to enroll at Nevada Health Link.
Throughout the entire process, the Exchange will be working alongside the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services to ensure careful integration, testing and deploying the platform, causing as little disruption and inconvenience to Medicaid and Exchange customers as possible.
Why Was GetInsured Chosen
GetInsured is an IT vendor with a proven reputation for successfully building private health insurance exchange platforms. Currently, the GetInsured platform is being used to power seven state-based exchanges, including California, New Mexico, Idaho and Mississippi. The platform is also used by dozens of business partners for health insurance marketplaces across the country. In fact, last year, about 1.5 million Americans used GetInsured to enroll in health insurance.
The ultimate goal of Nevada Health Link is to leverage innovative, proven technology, to provide a better experience for Nevadans, at a lower cost. In Nevada, GetInsured will provide both the actual technology platform and the customer assistance call center. This will allow the Exchange to operate more efficiently, and provide a better overall customer service experience. Over the following months, GetInsured will be working closely with the Exchange staff and stakeholders to continue to improve the experience for every customer who uses Nevada Health Link.
How Will This Change the Enrollment Process
If you’re among the 91,000 Nevada residents who purchase health insurance through HealthCare.gov, then you’ll most likely have a new way of enrolling in a program through the state by 2020. The open enrollment period for the new program will begin in November of 2019. This will give residents an opportunity to log into the website and view available insurance plans. When you’re ready to sign up for a health insurance plan, simply contact a health insurance agent from Nevada Insurance Enrollment to get clear guidance through the whole process.
Getting Help from Nevada Insurance Enrollment
Unfortunately, a large drop-off in health insurance enrollees is expected as a result of the elimination of the individual mandate. Those who opt out of health insurance are leaving themselves vulnerable to serious financial hardship in the event of an unexpected injury or illness. To combat this and make health insurance accessible to Nevadans, the state’s Marketplace has a wide variety of plans, including comprehensive ACA-compliant health insurance plans and association health plans, which are lighter on benefits but are more affordable and certainly a better option than no health insurance at all.
As health insurance continues to see changes on both the federal and state level, it can be a challenge to find the right health insurance plan for your needs. At Nevada Insurance Enrollment, our health insurance agents specialize in helping you find the health insurance policy that provides the coverage that you need at a price that you can afford. We can help you navigate the new platform, ensuring that your enrollment process is as quick and easy as possible. Contact us today to learn more about the enrollment process or to talk about the best health insurance plan for you.