Affordable Care Act

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A new study shows fewer Kentucky adults are delaying or skipping medical care because of cost concerns.

The report from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky says a little more than 20 percent of Kentuckians who are 18 and older put off treatment this year because they couldn’t afford it.

That’s a big improvement over the 32 percent who skipped or delayed medical care in 2009.

“It’s still too high a figure, and we’re still higher than the national average,” said Foundation President and CEO Ben Chandler. “But it’s certainly better than what it was, and it’s a good sign and a step in the right direction.”

Chandler says the increasing number of Kentuckians who have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act has made a big difference. He points out income level is also a big predictor of whether Kentuckians had to put off getting medical care.

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If you go to the hospital this year, there will likely be a small decrease in your bill from previous years.

That’s because hospitals in Kentucky saw the lowest rates of charity care in 2015 since before Medicaid expansion went into effect four years ago.

But it might not last.

Charity care refers to the services hospitals provide patients who can’t pay because they don’t have insurance. Hospitals get paid back for this partially by the state and federal government, but they pass the remaining cost on to insured people.

In 2015, Kentucky hospitals had $552 million in charity care costs, compared with $2.4 billion four years ago.

The findings on uncompensated care come from a new report from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky report out last week.

A big reason for the dip is likely from the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Baptist Health Plan To Stop Selling Insurance In Kentucky

Oct 3, 2016

Baptist Health Plan says it will not sell policies in Kentucky next year, meaning about 7,000 people will have to find a new insurance provider.

Kentucky’s fourth-largest insurer notified state officials in a letter. In a news release, state officials say company President James S. Fritz said Baptist Health Plan had enrolled more people than it planned and said federal risk assessments imposed by the federal Affordable Care Act are “unsustainable.”

The company’s insurance plans sold on the state’s health exchange will be good through Dec. 31. Plans sold off the exchange will expire March 31, 2017.

The news means next year people in 59 counties will have one insurance provider selling plans on the state health exchange. Off the exchange, most counties will have two options, state officials said.

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A new study says the number of low-income Kentuckians without health insurance declined by 68 percent in the first year of the state’s Medicaid expansion.

The research was conducted by the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences by faculty members Joseph Benitez, Liza Creel and J’Aime Jennings.

It was published Wednesday in Health Affairs.

The study said 35 percent of low-income Kentuckians were uninsured at the end of 2013, and 11 percent were uninsured in late 2014. The research aligns with past studies that show sharp drops in the rate of uninsured in Kentucky since the Affordable Care Act was implemented.

Benitez and his colleagues also found declines in the number of people lacking a regular source of health care and those with unmet medical needs.

Farm Contractors Balk At Obamacare Requirements

Feb 9, 2016

Obamacare is putting the agricultural industry in a tizzy.

Many contractors who provide farm labor and must now offer workers health insurance are complaining loudly about the cost in their already low-margin business.

Some are also concerned that the forms they must file with the federal government under the Affordable Care Act will bring immigration problems to the fore. About half of the farm labor workforce in the U.S. is undocumented.

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Federal officials are unsure how much the government will recoup of the $1.2 billion spent on loans and startup costs for a dozen health care cooperatives that later failed, including Kentucky’s.

The situation with the Kentucky Health Cooperative is complicated by the liquidation of the entity, which a state court ordered this month.

Under the Affordable Care Act, co-ops were created to increase competition among plans and improve consumer choice, according to a recent story by USA Today.

Of the 23 co-ops created, a dozen have failed, including Kentucky Health Cooperative.

About $2.4 billion of federal funds was put into the creation of the startup health insurance providers.

Since it was established, Kentucky Health Care Cooperative has been awarded a total of $146 million in federal loans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

An analysis of health insurance data shows more than 16,000 Kentucky children obtained health insurance during the first year of the Affordable Care Act.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the State Health Access Data Assistance Center say the Kentucky's uninsured rate among children dropped 4.3 percent during the first year of the federal Affordable Care Act. Their analysis revealed more than 10 percent of the private insurance plans purchased on the state health exchange were for children.

Researchers say the increase is because the state health exchange offered discounted insurance plans to people who did not qualify for public insurance programs. And the increased marketing of the state health exchange prompted people who were already eligible for Medicaid to enroll.

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A new study examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Kentucky offers insights into how residents are using and benefiting from the federal health law.

It was compiled by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, a health policy research institute at the University of Minnesota, and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

The study released Tuesday analyzed the first quarter of 2015. The center will be updating the information quarterly and compiling studies about coverage, access to services, quality of care, cost and outcomes in Kentucky.

Half of the people who enrolled in Kentucky’s state-run health care exchange, Kynect, chose the Silver Plan, according to the study.

Kentucky State Government

The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well Being analysis.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate dropped to 12.9 percent. This is the lowest recorded rate since Galup-Healthways began tracking the measure daily in 2008.

A year ago the uninsured rate was 17.1 percent.

The survey found that the uninsured rate declined as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state health insurance exchanges in the first and second quarters of 2014.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman is predicting a major “re-write” of the Affordable Care Act next year.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie would have an up-close view of such an effort, as he was named vice-chair of a key House Health Subcommittee Wednesday.

Guthrie says the complicated structure of the federal health law makes it difficult to change certain aspects of the A.C.A without creating unintended consequences elsewhere.

“You hear a lot of people say, ‘let’s keep what we like and fix what we don’t like.’ And there are things that we need as part of our system. We need to make sure that people have health care if they’re sick, and pre-existing conditions don’t push them out of the marketplace.”

But the Bowling Green Republican said adding so many additional Americans to the healthcare system made it impossible for President Obama to keep his pledge that everyone could keep the doctor and health plan that they wanted.

The Congressman also expressed concern about states—like Kentucky—that expanded their Medicaid rolls as part of Obamacare.

Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies.

Defying expectations, the court announced Friday it has agreed to hear a case that challenges the heart of the law: subsidies that help people pay their insurance premiums. In about three dozen states, the federal government runs the online marketplaces (exchanges) where individuals can find health plans.

Health Costs Inch Up As Obamacare Kicks In

Sep 12, 2014

Doctors and hospitals treated more patients and collected more payments in the spring as millions gained insurance coverage under the health law, new figures from the government show.

But analysts called the second-quarter increases modest and said there is little evidence to suggest that wider coverage and a recovering economy are pushing health spending growth to the painful levels of a decade ago.

A new poll finds a majority of Kentuckians aren’t happy with the Affordable Care Act, but they do like benefits the legislation made possible.

According to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky study released Thursday, this disconnect is consistent throughout the state, although people in the more urban areas—Lexington and Louisville—were at least nearly 10 percent more favorable of the ACA.

The foundation’s President Susan Zepeda says the poll found nearly half of people disapprove of the ACA while nearly 4 out of 5 like one of the benefits.

“The biggest difference we found was the number of Kentuckians who strongly supported the expansion of Medicaid that was made possible by the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

Zepeda adds this could be good or bad news for some.

Pair of New Insurers Interested In Joining 'Kynect'

Jun 17, 2014
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

At least two new health insurance companies say they want to sell policies on Kentucky's health insurance exchange.

The exchange, named kynect, is the website where people can sign up for the state's Medicaid program or purchase discounted private health insurance plans, depending on their income.

Ohio-based CareSource and Florida-based WellCare have filed paperwork with state regulators indicating their interest in selling policies through kynect. Both companies provide Medicaid plans in Kentucky but have not sold on the individual market.

Paul Not Sure What Would Happen To State Exchange

May 30, 2014
WKU Public Radio

If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he did not know what would happen to the 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the state's health exchange.

The Republican senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate told reporters Friday he favors repealing all of the federal Affordable Care Act. But he acknowledged there is no easy answer to what would happen to those who are insured through the state exchange, which was made possible by the federal law.

Paul's comments come after fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said last week he thought the state's health exchange was unconnected to the Affordable Care Act. McConnell later said state officials would determine the fate of the exchange.