Nevada’s health exchange makes leap to own platform

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A Nevada Health Link table at an event to promote open enrollment (Photo: courtesy)

Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange (SSHIX), doesn’t wait for the question she knows is coming.

Korbulic has led the agency overseeing Nevada’s health insurance marketplace since 2016, and when asked about its history, she quickly brings up the failed attempt to create a state-based enrollment platform.

That’s particularly notable given the state is trying to launch a platform again.

Earlier this month, the SSHIX began its transition from use of the federal health insurance enrollment platform, healthcare.gov, to use of a fully state-based platform. It’s now leading a pack of states attempting to do so in the name of financial savings and increased control of enrollment data.

But in Nevada, where the state severed its relationship with contractor Xerox in May 2014 after a series of enrollment and billing troubles led to a chaotic enrollment period, the move has required many conversations and some convincing during two gubernatorial administrations.

“There was hesitation from everyone all over the place. I’ve spent basically two years trying to convince people,” Korbulic said.

The company hired by the exchange to oversee the transition, GetInsured, was part of Korbulic’s effort to ensure things do not go like last time.

The business built Idaho’s exchange platform when the state moved away from the federal exchange platform in 2014 and has worked with several other states including California and Mississippi.

In an emailed statement, GetInsured CEO Chini Krishnan said the company looks forward to helping Nevadans sign up for qualified health insurance plans in a way that “brings greater efficiency and cost-savings to the state.”

Korbulic said the deal is expected to save Nevada $4 million over the next biennium that would have otherwise gone to healthcare.gov.

The new platform also offers exchange officials access to tailored data that will allow them to market the plans most effectively, Korbulic said.

However, migrating all of the consumers’ data from the federal platform to the new Nevada platform was a challenge due to the many levels of bureaucracy involved.

“That trail has been burned now,” she said. “That problem was sort of unique to Nevada being the first.”

To aid enrollees with the transition, the exchange has solicited interest from a wide swath or life and health insurance brokers. Korbulic said 320 are returning this year, and that there’s even more interest.

Dignity Health, which receives a grant from the exchange to act as a certified navigator association, has six employees referred to as enrollment exchange facilitators. Their job is to assist Nevadans, particularly those who are uninsured and underinsured, to enroll while also answering questions about the exchange and its plans. They’re also obligated to offer unbiased information on plan options regardless of the insurer.

Jennifer Findlay, the manager overseeing Nevada Health Link enrollment facilitators for Dignity, said they’ll distribute staff at each of their six hospitals and community centers for the open enrollment period of Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

“It’s not super complicated, but a lot of times consumers have questions about answering (insurance) questions the right way,” she said. “A lot of consumers who we’ve connected with in the past are reconnecting with us saying, ‘Hey, I got this email. What do I do now?’”

That e-mail, sent to prior users of healthcare.gov, requires recipients to go into the new website and reclaim their accounts for the 2020 insurance year.

She expects that many clients will need assistance early on and those who do should schedule their appointments ahead of time.

Three insurers have submitted proposals to participate in Nevada’s 2020 exchange-based health marketplace: SilverSummit (a Centene subsidiary), HMO Colorado (an Anthem company) and Health Plan of Nevada. The list of insurers will be finalized following a paperwork deadline Thursday.

The window-shopping feature for plans goes live Oct. 3

Pashtana Usufzy
Pashtana Usufzy is a freelance general features and health reporter based in Las Vegas. She previously worked as a health care reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and prior to that as a local news reporter at the Las Vegas Sun.

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