LAS VEGAS — Nevadans have until the end of the day Monday to sign up for government-subsidized health coverage if they want it to start Jan. 1.
Dec. 15 is a deadline for signing up through Nevada Health Link, the state insurance exchange established as part of the Affordable Care Act. Consumers who purchased a plan through the program during the last open enrollment period must sign up again if they want their subsidies to continue uninterrupted in the new year.
That's because Nevada switched from a state-run exchange to using the federal HealthCare.gov site, and data wasn't transferred from one site to the other.
More than 10,000 people enrolled in a health plan through Nevada Health Link during the first three weeks of the current open enrollment period, which ends Feb. 15. Nearly 37,000 people signed up through Nevada Health Link during the previous open enrollment period.
Consumers can still sign up for coverage through mid-February, but it won't kick in until sometime after the new year begins.
Health Link officials have been running an aggressive marketing campaign to encourage Nevadans to sign up if they don't already have coverage through their employer or a program such as Medicaid. They told the health exchange board last week that they held 91 outreach events to date, including setting up tables at football games, fairs and veterans' events.
Two stores inside shopping centers in Reno and Las Vegas had seen 1,700 customers so far. Exchange officials said they hoped to increase traffic in the stores, but were facing the challenge of attracting shoppers who were distracted by their Christmas shopping.
It's unclear how many of the 10,198 people who enrolled as of Dec. 5 are new to the program, and how many are re-enrolling. State officials told the health exchange board that those numbers are not easily tracked, and likely won't be available short of surveying all customers.
If consumers who previously purchased coverage miss the Dec. 15 deadline, their insurance will continue into the new year, but they will have to pay the full premium price up front. They have until Feb. 15 to re-enroll, regain the subsidies as part of their regular bills and recoup some of the money they spent on the full-price premium.
"The new system is working and we now need our current members to come back, create a new account and enroll again," said Nevada Health Link Chief Bruce Gilbert. "I am confident that through our outreach efforts and those of our partners, a majority of our current participants will return to take advantage of subsidized rates by the close of the open enrollment period."