Affordable Health Insurance Not Affordable Enough for Some

LAS VEGAS -- There are thousands of southern Nevadans going to work every day, but are still without health coverage.

Doctors call this group the working poor, and they're struggling to pay for health insurance even under the Affordable Care Act.

So far, more than 17,000 people have chosen plans through the state health exchange and more than 10,000 have paid for them, according to the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.

However, doctors say there are still many locals who are falling through the cracks. Some make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still can't budget the extra money for health coverage.

Others have lost their jobs and can't afford to pay Cobra. Doctors at Volunteers in Medicine say many of these people are struggling to get insurance, including Nader Amirhosseni.

He lost his job, his health insurance, and in many ways, his confidence.

"I'm 57. It is very difficult to get back in. I have found it almost impossible," Amirhosseni said.

Amirhosseni also has a string of serious health problems, creating a financial burden for his family. His wife makes just enough money so that the family doesn't qualify for Medicaid.

"It is difficult. It's a huge adjustment for the entire family," Amirhosseni said.

Now, he goes to Volunteers in Medicine, a low-cost clinic founded by Doctor Florence Jameson. The non-profit serves the uninsured in the Las Vegas valley.

Jameson says thousands of people like Amirhosseni cannot afford to buy insurance under the state health exchange.

"He cannot get on Medicaid. He can't get on a qualified health plan, and he absolutely can't afford it," Dr. Jameson said.

Jameson anticipates 300,000 Nevadans will still be without access to health care even under the Affordable Care Act.

"There will always be people that fall through the cracks," Dr. Jameson said.

Patients like Steven Whitesell, who tried to sign up for Nevada Health Link, but his finances are still tight.

"The cost of the new health plan is reasonable, if you're working and if you can afford the deductibles," Whitesell said.

Jameson says it is important to point out many people find they can afford insurance under Nevada Health Link or qualify for free coverage under Medicaid.

"There should be the day that no Nevadan has to got to bed at night without their much needed healthcare," she said.

Jameson is now on the board of the Silver State Health Exchange. She is working to make affordable healthcare attainable for Nevadans.

For people who do not sign up for insurance by March 31, will be fined.

The fee for not having insurance in 2014 is $95 per adult and about $50 per child, or one percent of a persons taxable income, whichever is greater

That fine goes onto the tax bill for next year.

To apply for health insurance, go to nevadahealthlink.com.


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