Health exchange eyes return to state-run enrollment site

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L.E. Baskow

Heather Korbulic, executive director or Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, gives an overview of changes as Nevada Health Link hosts the Open Enrollment 5 Prep Rally at the Suncoast on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

Thu, Nov 16, 2017 (2 a.m.)

Nevada’s health exchange is looking to once again run its own enrollment site, a move off the healthcare.gov platform that could save the state millions of dollars.

The Silver State Health Exchange is planning to issue a request for information in December and will likely issue a request for proposal in March, said Heather Korbulic, the agency’s executive director. She said the healthcare.gov platform limits the exchange’s access to information and how much time customers can spend shopping for plans.

“We’ll just take the same business processes that we use with healthcare.gov right now and remove healthcare.gov and put in private technology,” she said. “So we limit any kind of disruption.”

The exchange has used its own technology for enrollment before. In 2012, Xerox was hired to create a system that ended up with 1,500 glitches and led some consumers to sue over insurance they said they never received.

Xerox has collected $12 million on a $75 million contract when the company was fired in 2014, and the state exchange switched over to the healthcare.gov platform.

“In 2014, the drama of Xerox, it was everywhere,” Korbulic said. “It’s painful, it’s still a ghost in the office. It gets less and less prevalent but, in that drama, one of the biggest things that was a problem was that we tried to create this giant beast that would do everything.”

She said the exchange can show that it has a plan that will comply with regulations while still going to a private option. If the new platform is in place by 2020, the exchange would save $6 million.

The exchange currently pays healthcare.gov 1.5 percent of the premiums it collects, amounting to about $5.5 million. The cost is increasing over the next two years, Korbulic said, and would reach $11 million by 2020.

“But I don’t think we’re going to get to 2020,” she said. “I think we’re going to be able to get self-sufficient and off of their system before then.”

The shortened enrollment period, which runs through Dec. 15, and scheduled downtime on the site from 9 p.m. Saturday nights until Sunday mornings mean enrollees will have less time to shop and buy insurance this year. This could mean high-traffic periods that stress the healthcare.gov system, Korbulic said.

She said she’s received no answer from officials on what they’ve done to shore up the system, and the cost has stayed the same despite the state’s use of the site going down by about half.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services covers 100 million people through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Health Insurance Marketplace. The agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, did not provide answers to questions about costs or technology.

“In any other vendor relationship, to not have answers to questions like that would be pretty upsetting,” she said.

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