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Frustration over state's online health insurance exchange


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Frustration over state's online health insurance exchange

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Nov 8, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- While much of the scrutiny is focused on the federal healthcare website, people in Nevada are reporting their own issues with the state's online health insurance exchange.

"I thought this is it. I'm finally going to get insurance," said Dina Varjas of Las Vegas.

That was until Varjas ran into an error message on the state exchange's website, repeatedly.

"For about three weeks now, I keep going on to submit the application and I just keep getting error codes," Varjas said.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange set up Nevada Health Link as a marketplace for coverage options. The website went live to the public on Oct. 1.

After viewing the prices, Varjas is holding off on insurance for herself. But she's still trying to get her teenage son enrolled in a program.

"I'm done," Varjas said. "Like I don't even care if they give it to me. I don't even want it."

The mother said she's had to call Nevada Health Link nearly half a dozen times. But she still couldn't get past the technical issues to submit her application. That's when she emailed Action News.

"I can understand that there's glitches but for this long, it's not acceptable," Varjas said.

Action News made a phone call to Carson City to get some answers.

Turns out, the web browser you're using could make a difference. Communications officer CJ Bawden said the site works best with Google Chrome, though it can still work with other browsers like Internet Explorer.

"Every week we go, we're resolving errors in the system and the number of complaints has dropped dramatically," Bawden said in a telephone interview.

The health exchange is installing upgrades and fixes, sometimes called "patches," nearly twice a week, Bawden said.

The state recommends clearing your "cookies" or cache to make sure you're using the newest version of the site. Users should also wait for the web page to fully load before working on an application, Bawden said.

Action News asked if the state did enough to test the new system before it went live.

"We did multiple cases, more than the federal system required," Bawden said, noting testing began about two weeks before the site went live.

So far, roughly 8,800 applications have been completed, Bawden said.

"Get this fixed," Varjas said. "It's very frustrating. It really weighs on you."

Varjas was eventually able to submit her application on Nov. 8 after speaking with an operator. 

Bawden said people who continue to have trouble online should call the help line. If the operator cannot assist you, Bawden said they can help connect users with people who are local and can guide users through the application process.

The number is 1-855-7NV-LINK (855-768-5465).