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Process for getting insurance smoother

More than 40,000 Nevadans signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act during the first month of open enrollment, which began Nov. 15, according to a report from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

“We’re pleased that in Nevada, 40,285 people signed up for marketplace coverage during the first month of open enrollment,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said. “The vast majority were able to lower their costs even further by getting tax credits, making a difference in the bottom lines of so many families.”

About 90 percent of Nevadans who chose health insurance plans in the first month were eligible for financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums, the report said.

More than 4 million people nationwide signed up for the first time, including all of the Nevadans, or re-enrolled in coverage for 2015 during the first month of open enrollment, the report said. Open enrollment runs through Feb. 15.

Through Dec. 26, nearly 6.5 million Americans selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled, the report said.

Boulder City insurance broker Beth Walker said the increase in the number of Nevadans getting insurance is good news, especially because the federal government’s hope of generating more youth involvement has not gone the way it hoped. The lack of younger people signing up is one of the catalysts for the rate increases of others, she said.

“Unless they are young people who are married with children,” Walker said about younger enrollees. “What I have seen are parents of 26-year-olds contacting me to do the process with them on behalf of their child who is aging off of their policy. They know if they leave it to the child they’re not going to do it.”

Walker said problems with last year’s Nevada Healthlink website turned people away from getting insurance. But in 2014, Nevada joined www.HealthCare.gov, and is one of 37 states to use the federal platform.

The transition has been smoother, but Walker said young people still aren’t showing up to get insurance, and it will probably be a couple of years until the market balances out.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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