As Nevada becomes the third state-run public health insurance exchange to defect to the federal infrastructure of Healthcare.gov, brokers in the state lament that the process of enrolling consumers was a nightmare" and thus the decision was the "only option."
Vickie Mayville, president of the Nevada State Association of Health Underwriters and owner/broker at Mayville Incorporated Health Insurance Agency in the Las Vegas area, said in one extreme case it took upwards of 40 hours of work to enroll just one person on a plan on the states Affordable Care Act marketplace called Nevada Health Link.
See related: How Oregons exchange move could affect brokers
The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Board decided Tuesday to use Healthcare.gov for open enrollment 2015 while scrapping the vendor used for the execution of the website during the 2014 period Xerox. The plan is to use the federal government site as an interim solution while the board looks for another vendor to build another state-run system for 2016.
That worries me a lot, Mayville says, moving from one system to another and then back again. She notes thats a lot of change for consumers. Broker Quicy Branch agrees and adds that would mean two new sets of training for exchange-certified brokers and agents, as well.
But Larry Harrison, broker at National Healthcare Access Inc. in Las Vegas and spokesman for the states NAHU group, says hes optimistic about the road ahead.
What went wrong
We had no choice to get Xerox out of the way, he says. One of the options the [exchange] committee had [Tuesday] was to bring in somebody else right away and have them try to put this together. But theres no Band-aid to fix this, it has to be scrapped, so if we have the Feds come in [we] use that as an incubator to then have someone else come in with a whole new solution for 2016.
Harrison, while thinking positively about the future, echoed Mayvilles sentiments about the past open enrollment period. The people who have been in charge have not been team players, they didnt want to reach out to the brokerage community and thought we were parasites just out for commissions, he says. It was just a fiasco.
He says one big issue Xerox had was with payments for insurance coverage. They didnt have the internal technology set up to handle accepting money from consumers and directing it to the carriers along with the corresponding patient information. They couldnt get money associated with names, and theyre still working that out to this day, he adds.
Branch, who is president and CEO of Branch Benefits Consultants also in Las Vegas, says hes not so sure about the plan of going to the Feds because whats going to be the argument for going back to the state if the Feds works well?
As of April 2, 41,823 Nevadans have signed up for private health insurance through the exchange, according to Nevada Health Link. Mayville says thats one-third of the original estimate.
Because of the all the difficulty with enrollment, the 2014 period was extended to May 31 still more than a week away for those who already had applications in the system. As such, final enrollment numbers are forthcoming.
Oregon and Massachusetts also recently decided to drop state-run models and join the federal exchange.
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