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Nevada exchange processes about 2,000 applications

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Managers of Nevada’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) program say residents have completed a total of about 2,000 applications for coverage.

Managers earlier reported that residents had submitted about 703 plan applications during  the period from Oct. 1, when open enrollment began, through Oct. 12.

Managers said 513 people have officially enrolled in coverage through the exchange by paying for coverage.

The exchange hopes to enroll 118,000 people in coverage by March 31.

Jon Hager, executive director of the exchange, said at a board of examiners briefing Tuesday that the exchange has determined 26,000 people to be eligible for Medicaid or tax credit subsidies to buy policies.

Hager said the website has been viewed 2.8 million times by 310,000 unique visitors.

Nevada is one of 15 states that opted to set up their own individual insurance exchanges under PPACA. Other states left the task to the federal government.

“I thought the prudent course was for the state to run its own,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval, chairman of the board that also includes Secretary of State Ross Miller and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Sandoval began planning for the state exchange in 2011 despite opposing the 2010 law.

The 2014 exchange open enrollment period is set to end March 31.

Hager said he believes consumers are doing their “due diligence” comparing plans before making a purchase. He expects the volume to increase as the Dec. 15 deadline nears for coverage that takes effect on the first of the year.

Hager said there’s been confusion about health exchanges. He stressed that Nevada’s exchange is not associated with the insurance exchange run by the federal government that has come under increased scrutiny for technical glitches, security concerns and other problems.

“Our data is secure,” he said.

According to the Nevada Division of Insurance, 24,623 people with existing policies have received cancellation or non-renewal notices from their insurer because the policies don’t meet the new law’s requirements. An estimated 80,000 to 90,000 policies in Nevada are sold on the private insurance market.

Hager said he anticipates some of those who have had their policies canceled will seek new coverage through the exchange.

Hager said the website’s Spanish-language portal will be available next week, and other problems that slowed the system in the early days are being worked out and are “not much of a factor” anymore.

“There have been errors. We have been improving every day,” he said.

Mike Willden, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said he expects a surge in Nevada Medicaid recipients by year’s end. Under PPACA and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld it, states were given the option to expand Medicaid eligibility. Nevada for the first time will allow low-income single adults without dependent children to qualify.

At the July 1 start of the fiscal year, Nevada had 320,000 Medicaid recipients, Willden said. That number has since grown to 334,000, and Willden said caseloads will continue to increase when the new eligibility standards kick in Jan. 1.

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