By Suzanne Potter
Starting January 1, Nevada will see big changes to its healthcare system as multiple bills from the last Legislature go into effect.
The most prominent is Assembly Bill 170, which says companies that sell group insurance plans in the state can’t discriminate against people with health challenges or charge them more. Vivian Leal, a multiple sclerosis patient and volunteer with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, calls the bill a backstop in case the Affordable Care Act is overturned in the courts.
“So, we have a foothold on not going backwards and leaving lots of people that are really fighting for their lives on a daily basis – or like me, for their mobility – with the extra, added stress of being excluded from the insurance policies,” says Leal.
The bill means added security for people with preexisting conditions, including heart disease, asthma and diabetes. Opponents have complained that the extra cost to insurance companies will result in higher rates.
The bill also requires insurance companies to connect people to the state Office for Consumer Health Assistance, which can advocate for patients when insurance companies try to deny or delay treatment.
Leal says she hopes the state advocate can convince her insurance company to cover MS treatments in Reno, where she lives – instead of making her drive to a company-owned facility, two hours away.
“Access becomes the valve where they’ll eke out profit,” says Leal. “So, even people paying for a policy who have burdensome co-pays and coinsurance are still not being able to get the care they need.”
Also taking effect January 1 is a law to reduce surprise out-of-network medical bills, another that requires companies with more than 50 employees to offer paid sick leave, and a third that requires them to provide health insurance to workers who make the lower-tier minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Public News Service – NV
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