Sun editorial:

Don’t let effort to sabotage health care law prevent you from being covered

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Anthony Devlin / PA Wire

A doctor checks a patient’s blood pressure. Nevadans who buy their own insurance on the federal health insurance marketplace face a Dec. 15 deadline.

With President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans still working to kill the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, it can be difficult for consumers to determine where things stand with it.

But for Nevadans who need coverage, here are a few important points to know as the Dec. 15 deadline for open enrollment approaches.

1. Coverage remains available through the health insurance exchange established under Obamacare — or the Affordable Care Act, to use its formal name. The ACA is still the law of the land, meaning plans on the exchange must provide comprehensive benefits and limit out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

2. Federal subsidies that lower the cost of plans for those in need remain in place.

3. This is critical: Documented immigrants don’t need to worry that applying for subsidies will hinder their chances at obtaining citizenship. Although the Trump administration has proposed a rule change that would allow for the denial of citizenship based on use of public programs. It wouldn’t apply to green card holders seeking citizenship or to subsidies on the health exchange marketplace. The proposed change hasn’t been implemented, either. On a related matter, it’s also important to note that undocumented immigrants cannot receive coverage through the ACA.

4. With pre-existing conditions being a key topic of political ads this year, consumers should know that insurers who provide exchange plans still can’t turn down enrollees or charge them more if they have pre-existing conditions.

5. For Nevadans, information is available through Nevada Health Link by visiting nevadahealthlink.com, calling 855-768-5465 or emailing [email protected]

6. For a full list of locations where in-person help is available, see below. Consumers also can locate in-person assistance with Nevada Health Link’s in-person assistance look-up tool.

Nevada Health Link is where you can purchase state-certified health insurance plans that are based on your income.

As was the case last year, Nevada Health Link staff members are working hard to inform consumers and dispel rumors about the status of Obamacare. That’s because the Trump administration in 2017 gutted funding for advertising for the ACA, leaving advocates with a heavier burden for spreading the word.

Since then, Republicans did manage to make one major change to the law, eliminating the individual mandate that imposed fines on consumers who fail to obtain health care coverage. Although the full effects of that change have yet to be determined, the number of people who signed up during the first two weeks of open enrollment through the federal portal was down about 20 percent from 2017.

That’s sad, especially if it’s an indicator that consumers are simply opting to forego coverage when good, affordable plans are available.

Another difference this year is that the Trump administration is promoting short-term insurance plans that don’t comply with the ACA but can offer attractive pricing.

But consumer advocates say shoppers should be very wary about those plans. The Kaiser Family Foundation warns that they generally don’t cover pre-existing conditions and often don’t provide benefits on prescription drugs, maternity care and other needs. And although the short-term plans are renewable, it’s up to insurers to decide whether to extend them.

So for Nevada consumers, the wisest course of action would be to contact Nevada Health Link. And sooner than later. With the Dec. 15 deadline fast approaching, the window is closing.

Finally, we’d urge readers to share this editorial with their followers on social media and with any family members, friends or acquaintances who may be in the need of health care insurance.

By spreading the word, we can all help Nevadans get the affordable coverage they deserve.

Need help enrolling?

Brokers and agents offering free help with enrolling (please call to make an appointment):

• Alberto Ochoa, Smart Buy Insurance Inc., Boulevard mall — 702-242-3200

• Brent Leavitt, Battle Born Financial Advisor, Pahrump — 775-338-9125

• Brian Douglas, ProtectHealth Insurance, Meadows mall — 702-988-9388

• Christopher Carothers, Your Health Insurance Agency, Galleria at Sunset mall — 702-385-3684

• Nathan Kamo, Kamo Insurance Agency, Henderson — 702-425-5663

Navigator and in-person assister organizations offering free help with enrolling:

• State of Nevada Office for Consumer Health Assistance — 702-486-3587

• Dignity Health, St. Rose Dominican — 702-616-4904

• Consumer Assistance & Resource Enterprise — 702-836-9033

• Asian Community Resource Center — 702-984-0015

• Three Square — 702-644-3663, extension 377, or 702-765-4030

• Hope Christian Health Center — 702-644-4673

• Nevada Health Centers — 800-787-2568

• Asian Community Development Council — 702-489-8866

• NV Outreach Training Organization/No to Abuse or Pahrump Family Resource Center — 775-751-1118

As was the case last year, Nevada Health Link staff members are working hard to inform consumers and dispel rumors about the status of Obamacare.