40,000 Nevadans chose plans through HealthCare.gov

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — More than 40,000 Nevadans selected health insurance plans through the federal marketplace during the first month of the recent enrollment period — an increase from the number who signed up for through the problem-plagued state-run exchange during its initial period.

The 40,285 Nevadans who chose a plan by Dec. 15 will have coverage and any tax credits they're eligible for starting on Jan. 1, provided they pay for the plan.

Typically, customers must pay the first month's premium by Dec. 31 to activate the coverage, but the health insurance industry said earlier this month that it planned to give consumers some flexibility on the deadline.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, said the payment deadline could vary from carrier to carrier, so consumers should check with their individual insurer.

Consumers can still sign up for a plan through the federal marketplace through Feb. 15, although it's too late to enroll for coverage that begins Jan. 1. People who fail to get insurance — either through a government program, their employer or a private plan — will have to pay a fine.

"Interest in the marketplace has been strong during the first month of open enrollment," said Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nearly 37,000 Nevadans signed up for a plan through the state-run health insurance exchange during the initial enrollment period, which began in the fall of 2013. Chronic computer problems hampered sign-ups and left some paying customers uncovered, prompting the state to scrap its multimillion-dollar agreement with contractor Xerox in May.

The state now defers to the federal HealthCare.gov site for many technical aspects of enrollment, while having a state-run agency — Nevada Health Link — run state-specific marketing efforts and provide in-person enrollment assistance.

Because of the switch, the tens of thousands of people who enrolled last time had to re-enroll by Dec. 15 to keep their subsidies flowing uninterrupted in the new year.

State officials said they aren't tracking how many of those who previously enrolled have re-enrolled this time, although Nevada Health Link has been sending targeted emails and mailers to remind them about the requirement.

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