Health Link Extension Nevada

By: Sandra Chereb (Associated Press) March 2014

Anyone who attempted to sign up for health insurance with Nevada’s failed insurance exchange will have another 60 days to try to complete the sign-up process, a state board decided Thursday.

The action by the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Board leaves the door open for tens if not hundreds of thousands of people to reapply after open enrollment ends March 31.

As many as 300,000 people mgiht have tried to buy insurance coverage through the state’s botched online Web portal, Nevada Health Link, but were thwarted by program errors in the system designed by Xerox, officials said.

But they also stressed that sum could represent duplicate enrollment attempts by people who became stuck during the process and started anew from scratch, hoping for a better outcome.

Only about 22,000 have successfully enrolled and paid for policies since the exchange went live Oct. 1, prompting the board to consider a special enrollment period for consumers who were trapped in the system and unable to complete their applications or make payment.

Given that dismal success rate, the potential volume of do-overs Xerox will be tasked to deal with in a two-month period far exceeds what it’s been able to achieve in the past six months.

Under the federal health care reform law, a special enrollment period can only be for 60 days and begins when a “triggering event” occurs. The law covers such things as the birth of a child or other life-changing event like the loss of a job. But it also includes “exceptional circumstances” where people were unable to sign for insurance because of technical problems with the exchange.

Because of the 60-day time constraint, the board was tasked with trying to define when the clock would start ticking for someone who tried to enroll unsuccessfully. Scott Kipper, Nevada’s insurance commissioner, noted that someone who gave up, say, in November, would be ineligible if the parameters were determined by when a last attempt was made.

A motion by board member Leslie Johnstone to limit the special enrollment to people who selected plans but didn’t complete the payment process failed for lack of a second. Johnstone also questioned Xerox’s ability to handle the volume of an all-encompassing pool.