“Hiccups” with Nevada Health Exchange prevents certified agents from helping uninsured

NEVADA HEALTH LINK INFO NEWS RELEASE — One week after the launch of Nevada’s health exchange, the Nevada Health Link, state approved brokers (“Assisters”) are unable to help Nevada’s 600,000 uninsured residents sign up for government mandated health insurance. Brokers state wide are reporting that the portal required for enrollments is still inactive and they have yet to receive log-in information for the site.

Yesterday afternoon, the Silver State Health Exchange sent brokers an email apologizing for “the multiple emails and promises of secret codes arriving on a nightly basis” and offered no concrete timeline for completion of the portal. “Just yesterday we had a handful of new clients walk through our door asking for help enrolling in health plans and we had to turn them away,” commented Hawley MacLean, President of MFG Benefits, who is a local expert on the state exchange.

Residents of Nevada have very few options to receive any live assistance for signing up through Nevada Health Link. On Monday, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office released a warning to residents about scammers looking to take advantage of consumer’s uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Responding to concerns, local news stations are urging residents to seek help from Nevada Health Link and find “Assisters” from their website. Once again, due to the brokers portal being down, individuals who do visit the website will have no luck finding legitimate, qualified help.

According to Nevada Health Links Twitter feed, there are approximately 21,900 accounts that have been set up through the website with a total 90,000 unique visits since its launch. Brokers have now digested these new statistics and are starting to become frustrated because they do not have the ability to respond to requests from clients.

“Since the beginning we were 100% behind the Nevada Health Exchange. We spent several thousand dollars and hundreds of man hours educating clients, the public, and our staff on the new system. Now are hands are tied and we are left out to dry by state officials who cannot seem to get their site working,” said MacLean. This has been detrimental to Nevada’s insurance brokers, who learned from Nevada Health Link’s Twitter feed on Monday that nearly 3,600 applications were in progress, which equates to nearly $800,000 in lost revenue for agents statewide looking to help with the complicated enrollment process.

Many of Nevada’s residents are starting to question why officials were not more prepared to launch an operational website when they have had a full two years to prepare for the exchange. On Nevada Health Link’s own Facebook fan page, one fan poked fun at the dysfunction by saying “Wonder why they didn’t contract this to Amazon.” On October 1, when the Nevada Health Link website was launched behind schedule, it was eventually shut down towards the end of the day due to the bugs that were not worked out.

“We are hopeful that now the consumer side is almost fixed, they will be able to give us access to the broker’s portal. Overall we feel confident that once the system is in place, our certified enrollment assisters will be able to perform this process very smoothly, but first they need to get the bugs worked out,” said MacLean. According to federal law, anyone that does not have health insurance by 2014 will be fined on their tax returns. Although large businesses have received an exemption for one year, companies with 50 or fewer employees will still need to purchase insurance by 2014. “We are even more anxious to get access to the Nevada Health Link portal, because group policies will need to be enrolled within 60 days of their commencement date in order qualify under the law,” said MacLean.

Nevada is certainly not the only state exchange that is encountering major problems. Maryland’s state exchange postponed its launch by four hours and California overstated its first day traffic count by millions of views. Most officials in Nevada would admit that there have been many seen and unseen problems arise from the exchange and that these bugs need to be worked out quickly. At one point, many state exchanges announced that they were not prepared for the large amount of visit to their sites and that they were working hard to take corrective actions. However, many individuals and brokers in the community have only seen slow-going verging on non-existent progress in Nevada. For more information about the exchange, visit www.NevadaHealthLinkInfo.com.

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