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Race is on to get Nevadans thinking about healthcare plans

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Updated: 6/25/2013 10:30 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- In less than 100 days uninsured people across America will have the opportunity to take advantage of the country's first-ever healthcare overhaul.

Nevadans will be able to search for their preferred plan through the state's health insurance exchange. It's being set up now.

This is the final sprint. It's a whirlwind for our state health officials working to prepare the Silver State's online health insurance marketplace -- the Nevada Health Link.

It will be used by the uninsured to shop for healthcare.

The countdown is on for October 1 when one of the key components of the health insurance reform law kicks in.

That's less than 100 days until Nevada’s Health Insurance Exchange enrollment kicks off.

This is part of the Affordable Care Act which is a federal law mandating everyone have access to health coverage- even those previously denied-- due to pre-existing conditions.

The silver state's exchange, known as Nevada Health Link, will allow Nevada’s uninsured to shop compare and purchase the coverage that best fits their financial and health needs.

There are a few hurdles standing in the way of a successful enrollment.

Jon Hager, the executive director of Nevada’s exchange explains the biggest hurdles involve outreach and participation.

“It’s not as simple as making a TV ad campaign. There are groups of people that don't watch TV. There are groups that don't have access to internet and groups that don't have electricity,” Hager said.

According to state officials, roughly 60,000 Nevadans under 65, are uninsured and two-thirds are eligible for Medicaid--the insurance for the poor and disabled.

That leaves about 200,000 eligible for insurance through the new exchange.

Hager says the goal is to register about half that number in this first wave of enrollment
“We're anticipating 115,000 in the first year of enrollment,” Hager said “That rises to 170,000 to 180,000 in 2017.”

Bill Donahue, the CEO of the Nevada Health Co-Op, a non-profit health insurance carrier and participant of the exchange , echoes Hager's sentiments. His team goes to church functions, community events to spread the word and dispel any myths.

“In the next 100 days we have to get out at the grassroots level on a one on one basis. What programs are available,” Donahue said. “The greater pool that has coverage, the less of a chance we'll have people slipping through the cracks.”

The healthcare overhaul's success relies on solid participation-- not just by the sick, but the young and healthy. Those who choose not to participate may be fined.

Plus if only the elderly and sick sign up, higher premiums may result so Donahue says if you're uninsured, get informed and ask questions.

“Obviously we'd like them to become members of the co-op, choose the best arrangement, but choose,” Donahue said.

If you're uninsured and don't sign up for a plan, you may be fined.

Enrollment begins October 1. State health officials are encouraging residents to get on the Nevada Health Link website now.

Rates won't be up on the website until September, but you can sign up for email updates to stay informed and get acclimated to the site.



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