Nevada Medicaid Enrollments Surge - 8 News NOW

Nevada Medicaid Enrollments Surge

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LAS VEGAS -- Nevada's Medicaid enrollments are higher than expected under federal healthcare reform.

Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden says the Medicaid caseload has grown by more than 10,000 from September to December, which is when the major part of the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Figures presented Thursday to the state's health insurance exchange board also show that 74,000 have been deemed newly eligible as of Jan. 5, when the state expanded its eligibility to include childless adults.

The increase is also because of thousands of people who have never applied before, because they were not sure if they would qualify, have now applied.

"This is like a brand new population that has to shop for insurance," Social Services Manager for the Department of Welfare and Supportive Services Patrick Williams said.

To handle all of the applications, the Department of Welfare plans to hire about 410 case workers by the end of this year.

In the meantime, people who have applied for Medicaid should be prepared for delays because Nevada case workers are juggling more than 1,000 cases per person.

"There will be some delays because some of the applications being incomplete, plus the high volume of applications that we're receiving," Williams said.

Williams urges people applying for Medicaid to make sure they answer as many questions on the applications as they can.

Dan and Alicia Stone applied weeks ago for Medicaid and are still waiting to hear back.

"I'm trying to figure out what is going on because we have three boys at home that need insurance," Alicia Stone said.

"It is always the question what if, what if something happens and there is no insurance to cover it then you got a huge bill," Dan Stone said.

The Stones both have an education and work experience but don't make enough money to pay for insurance for a family of five.

A family of two making less than $21,408 a year could qualify for Medicaid and a household of three that brings in less than $26,964 a year could also qualify.

The Department of Welfare says it is getting a lot of calls for the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, Nevada's state-run health insurance marketplace.

Welfare officials says there is confusion with Medicaid applications and people buying health insurance through the exchange.

Officials are reminding people that to buy health insurance, go to nevadahealthlink.com, but go to the welfare office, or dwss.nv.gov, to apply for Medicaid, which is free coverage.

That report adds that the majority of people choosing private insurance through Nevada's online web portal are in southern Nevada, which makes up 68 percent of all policies sold.

In contrast, people in rural areas account for just 2 percent.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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