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Consumers, brokers low on patience over state health exchange problems


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Consumers, brokers low on patience over state health exchange problems

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Jan 15, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- First it was consumers. Now, insurance brokers are coming forward with their share of complaints about Nevada's state health insurance exchange.

Nevada Health Link went online in October, 2013. More than three months later, users are fed up receiving error messages online or long wait times on hold to reach the call center.

Vaughn Zavsza and wife Bonnie spend a lot of time at the computer these days trying to enroll Bonnie in health insurance.

"It's going to be a good plan if you can get into it," Vaughn said. "Like I said, it's going to save us financially."

But like many others, the Las Vegas area couple has run into problems trying to apply through the health link website.

"Using the health link has been a nightmare," Vaughn said.

Bonnie has rheumatoid arthritis. Vaughn said he's spent months trying to get past error messages online. He's tired of waiting on hold to speak with someone at the call center and every day that passes is a day without health insurance.

"February, the way it's going, we'll never have February because everything for February is due today," Vaughn said.

Brokers are expressing frustrations as well.

"I had to enroll the same person three times because it just spits things out," broker Patrick Casale said. "It doesn't give things in chronological order."

Casale is an independent insurance broker in Las Vegas. From picking a plan to paying for a plan, he's run into different problems trying to sign up clients.

"The clock is ticking," Casale said. "People are, right now, in a situation where: what do they do?"

In terms of online payments, users can no longer make a payment on plans with coverage effective Jan. 1, said health exchange spokesman CJ Bawden. People who created an application but did not pay by the deadline for Jan. 1 coverage must start a new application, he said. However, customers can make online payments for coverage plans effective Feb. 1 or later, he said.

As for the problems, the agency said it's working to fix them.

"Many individuals are running up against their frustration level and we are immediately taking steps to fix any individual problems with the website as well as increase capacity at the call center," Bawden said in a telephone interview with Action News.

The health exchange plans to add another 50 people to its call center in the coming weeks to ease the hold times and respond to email questions.

"Get some more people that know what they're doing or answer the phones," Vaughn said.

More than 11,000 people have paid for plans through the health link as of Jan. 11, the exchange said on its Twitter account.

Some brokers have asked for a special number to reach the exchange as they run into problems enrolling. Bawden said the health link is reviewing that request but the change is unlikely to happen right now because of staffing. 

Action News is working to put Vaughn and Bonnie in touch with the health exchange to get their issue resolved.