Nevada has uneven health coverage terrain

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - “Not myself no,” says Emma Jones.

Seven months pregnant, Jones says her husband has good insurance, so getting good affordable health care is not on her radar.

But with the uncertainty of coverage for thousands of Nevadans beginning January 1, with Anthem pulling out of the state exchange, she says thoughts of her mom's health don't wander far from her mind.

“She is in that age range where the pre-existing conditions would happen to go against her. And at this point she does have some pretty significant health problems,” says Jones.

For the last 20 years, the UNR Medical School has provided the pre-natal clinic for the women of Yerington, who must ultimately travel 80 miles to Reno to deliver. They and the doctor who runs the clinic are happy to have it--especially when you consider the alternatives.

“If patients don't receive pre-natal care, they are at high risk in their deliveries. There are several things we monitor during pregnancy. From infectious diseases to blood pressure, to screening for diabetes, proper growth for the fetus, you know it’s just an endless list,” says Dr. Catherine McCarthy, an Associate Professor with UNRMED in the Family Medicine Program.

Dr. McCarthy says she worries about her patients in the rurals, as beginning January 1, insurance companies will no longer be providing health insurance and the state's Medicaid Program is in a state of flux.

And now that Anthem is pulling out of the state's health exchange, more of her patients... not just those who are pregnant... will be faced with fewer choices for coverage.

The doctor recalls when the Affordable Health Care Act went into place.

“I had patients come into my office who hadn't seen a physician in years. And we just thought, we are so glad that you are here so we can take care of you,” says Dr. McCarthy.

None of her patients has asked her about the future of health care coverage in Nevada. She says that's because we're too far out, and the answers could be worse January first than they are today.