In 2011, the Las Vegas Sun reported some startling statistics; approximately 445,000 adults and 121,386 children in Nevada lacked health insurance coverage, making it the third most-uninsured state in the country. The newly passed healthcare laws strive to lessen this problem by bringing more affordable coverage options to uninsured Americans. In addition, all insurance companies are now required to meet certain coverage guidelines and can no longer turn applicants away or charge them higher rates due to pre-existing conditions. If you are a Nevada resident who needs health insurance for yourself or your family, this is a great time to start comparing policies and quotes.
Approximately half of all adult residents in Nevada have one or more chronic diseases. These diseases, particularly when left untreated for a number of years, can lead to expensive medical costs. Fortunately, early detection and intervention can make treatment more effective and less costly.
Under the newly passed laws, health insurance providers must cover age-appropriate testing such as colonoscopies and mammograms in full. These tests are extremely effective at detecting the presence of cancer and other problems at their earliest, most treatable stages. When people know they do not have to pay a percentage of the costs or a copay, they are more likely to have the tests.
The Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act, also known as Obamacare, became law on March 23, 2010, and went into effect at the beginning of 2014. The law includes an individual mandate, meaning that those who are currently uninsured must either obtain health insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty. This mandate was necessary in order to keep coverage costs low.
As required by this new law, the state has set up a health insurance marketplace, frequently referred to as the Nevada Healthcare Exchange. Through this exchange, residents can take advantage of low group rates to purchase health insurance coverage that is comprehensive and affordable.
To be eligible to purchase insurance through the Nevada Healthcare Exchange, you must be a state resident who does not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and who has no access to employer-provided health insurance benefits. The cost for a policy purchased through the exchange depends on certain factors: your age, the number of family members you need to insure, your annual household income and whether you use tobacco products. Those with the lowest incomes will pay the least.
Citizens of Nevada who do not have access to health insurance coverage often try to save money by doing without medical examinations unless they are extremely ill or seriously injured. If you have a health insurance policy, you will have full coverage for all of your preventive care, including any age-appropriate screening tests. This means no deductibles and no copays.
Major illness, such as cancer or cardio-pulmonary disease, can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care, especially if surgeries or time in the ICU is involved. The uninsured must pay these costs out of pocket. But for many, this is financially unmanageable. Half of all personal bankruptcy filings in the United States are due to overwhelming medical bills. In 2011 alone, 23,530 individuals in Nevada filed for personal bankruptcy. In many cases, having had suitable health insurance coverage could have prevented this financial hardship.
Another leading cause of high medical costs is tobacco use. According to the CDC, an estimated 438,000 Americans die prematurely each year because of smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. Furthermore, for every one person who dies, another 20 suffer from at least one major tobacco-related illness. In a state where approximately 1 in 5 adults smoke cigarettes, these costs have really added up. In 2004 alone, residents of Nevada spent about $709 million on smoking-related healthcare expenditures, as follows:
If you use tobacco products, be aware that by quitting now, you can start seeing a positive impact on your overall health in as little as seven days. You can ask your doctor about existing smoking cessation programs, medications and treatments, many of which your health insurance may cover.
Health insurance details and policies can be confusing. There are a number of different types of plans, coverage levels, copays, deductibles and premiums, and all this can make it difficult to figure out which policy is the best choice for you. There is no need to struggle with this on your own. An independent insurance agent in the Trusted Choice® network can get you quotes, answer your insurance-related questions, explain your options and help you find and review plans on the Nevada Healthcare Exchange as well as on the private market.
There are several Trusted Choice agents with offices located throughout Nevada. Contact a member agent near you to learn more and to start comparing health insurance quotes for yourself and your family.