Nevada Drops Problematic Health Exchange Website
Following the lead of Maryland, Oregon, and, most recently, Massachusetts, Nevada became the fourth state last week to drop its troubled health exchange website after facing serious technological issues and significantly missing the mark on enrollment predictions.
Instead of the current enrollment system, Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Board unanimously voted to transition to the HealthCare.gov infrastructure for enrollment. This may not be a permanent transition, however, with the state planning to keep its options open for the future, possibly adopting enrollment software that was successful in other state-run exchanges.
In the meantime, Nevada will cut ties with Xerox, the contractor hired to build the enrollment website, Nevada Health Link. Xerox was originally awarded a contract of $72 million, but because of the extensive difficulties Nevada Health Link faced, the company has only been paid $12.3 million. And it may not even keep all of that money—Nevada Representative Steven Horsford recommended that the exchange board “carefully examine how Xerox made use of the $12 million in taxpayer funds it has been paid and how the state may be able to recuperate losses.”
The state’s decision to drop the enrollment website and Xerox comes after Nevada received $90.8 million in federal grants to establish an exchange that was originally projected to enroll 118,000 people through March 31st—the conclusion of the enrollment period. Even with the generous funding and early hopes, technological issues beleaguered the enrollment website, at times providing incorrect subsidy amounts to enrollees. By the end of March, enrollment was 28,000 people—far lower than projections and hardly even covering the 25,000 Nevadans who were unable to keep their insurance because their plans failed to meet the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements. For those unable to sign up by the original deadline, Nevada created a special enrollment deadline of May 30th. As of May 10th, Nevada enrollment had reached 35,000 people.
Maryland, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Nevada are not the only states with exchange difficulties. Hawaii, for example, had enrolled around 8,500 people through the middle of May, costing about $23,000 per enrollee. With taxpayer dollars on the line, we will have to wait and see how struggling states like Hawaii act to mitigate losses of their disappointing exchanges.