CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The board overseeing Nevada’s troubled health insurance exchange Wednesday called for an analysis on costs, funding and feasibility before deciding whether to keep Xerox as the operator or plot a different course.
Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board members unanimously agreed that more information is needed before it can make a decision on whether to fix the existing system built by Xerox, adopt a successful program from another state, or join the federal online exchange.
Xerox has faced harsh criticism for the design and operation of Nevada Health Link, the state-run online insurance website established under the federal health reform law. The program has been wrought with problems since it went live Oct. 1, including computer and billing errors that have left the public, insurance providers and state officials angry and frustrated.
Because of the myriad problems, Nevada authorized a special enrollment period that runs through May 30 for anyone who tried to sign up before the March 31 deadline to try to complete the process. About 34,000 people have so far enrolled, well below an initial target of 118,000.
Xerox says it has worked to fix the problems. The company was awarded a contract of up to $75 million to design and operate the exchange. The company is only paid as it meets performance benchmarks and so far has received $12 million, most of that associated with a Henderson call center.
A review by Deloitte Consulting, a Xerox competitor, outlined the three options to try to improve the web portal in time for the next open enrollment period this fall in a 90-page report reviewed by the board Wednesday. Each comes with a tight deadline.
Xerox officials tried to assure the board that it has made progress in fixing problems and remains committed to making the Nevada exchange work.
“These improvements are helping us move toward meeting our collective enrollment goals and will ensure Nevada Health Link operate smoothly during the 2015 open enrollment season,” Xerox said in a statement. “
Board members, however, expressed skepticism.
“There are just so many issues and problems in every category … The report seems overwhelming to me,” said Lynn Etkins, vice chairwoman. “I’m really not hearing anything that all of these issues are going to be resolved before open enrollment.”
However the board decides to proceed on that front, one certainty is that consumers will pay higher monthly fees next year to cover ongoing operating expenses.
Board members on Wednesday approved a recommendation by state Insurance Commissioner Scott Kipper to increase the monthly fee for a medical policy purchased over the exchange to $13, up from the current rate of $4.95.
Kipper said assuming a 2015 enrollment of 60,000, the higher monthly fee would generate about $9.6 million, leaving the exchange a cushion of roughly $3 million to address advertising and outreach efforts.
Those fees are tacked on to monthly premiums paid by consumers.
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