Tuesday was the inaugural day for Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange.
The Kynect website went live at 12 a.m. Tuesday, and according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 24,000 people browsed to see what they might be eligible for and over 1,000 applications were processed by 9:30 a.m.
As expected, there have been a some hiccups along the way.
"The high volume of traffic is causing a few technical glitches, but we have an IT command center fully staffed who are working diligently to iron out any issues. People can continue to browse the site, but we encourage any visitors who experience problems to check back later to begin their application process," said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
"There will be a message on the site to provide an update as we work to ensure everything is running smoothly. This surge of early applications demonstrates the pent up demand for quality health coverage for many Kentuckians, who will be able to have that coverage beginning January 1, 2014, because of the ACA."
Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange can be accessed at kynect.ky.gov.
After more than a year of preparation, Kentucky is set to begin signing up the uninsured for health coverage Tuesday through an online marketplace.
The health benefits exchange offers a variety of insurance policies for consumers to compare. Premiums will range from less than $50 a month for a healthy individual to $700 a month for a family of four.
“The main thing people need to know is that you can still find some of the same benefits out in the individual health insurance market now," says Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. "You may find plans with even additional things, so we to people who are buying insurance on their own to look both inside and outside the exchange.”
Kentucky has roughly 640,000 uninsured residents. About half will qualify for Medicaid, and nearly as many will be eligible for subsidies to help pay their premiums.
A Lexington call center has fielded more than 7,000 calls since opening in mid-August. You can find the answers to some commonly asked questions by clicking here.
Meanwhile, Kentucky will roll out its health insurance exchange Tuesday with or without a government shutdown.
"All of these functions are funded and considered essential services,” adds Bond.
Governor Steve Beshear created the exchange by executive order last year. Since then, Kentucky has received about $250 million from the federal government for start-up costs.
The American Cancer Society is looking for participants in the Warren County region to take part in a national cancer prevention study. The group wants 300 people ages 30 to 65--who have never had a cancer diagnosis--to schedule appointments for the enrollment period of Nov. 20-22.
Those who are interested in participating can follow this link to learn more about what's known as the Cancer Prevention Study 3.
Participants will give a blood sample and have their waists measured, and will fill out a questionnaire about their health history and lifestyle. After that, those involved in the study will report any health changes through either mail or email.
"And from that we hope to learn more about possible links between cancer risks and lifestyle choices that people make, the environment where they live and work, and also even genetics," said Eric Walker, with the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society, Inc., based in Paducah.
Leaders in business, health care and government are assembling in Bowling Green for a summit designed to improve health information technology in Kentucky.
The annual e-Health summit begins Tuesday at the Sloan Convention Center.
Noted speakers include Judy Murphy, deputy of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes.
The event draws hundreds from around the state who come to present ideas and listen to state and national leaders speak about new initiatives in health information technology. It is sponsored by the Governor's Office of Electronic Health Information.
Governor Beshear says most of Kentucky’s uninsured residents would qualify for discounts on health insurance purchased on the state’s new health exchange. Speaking Tuesday in Frankfort, said at least 80 percent of the commonwealth’s uninsured would get some kind of financial assistance to help them get insurance coverage.
The new health exchange was put into motion following the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act. It serves as an online marketplace where consumers can choose state-approved insurance plans and compare coverage and costs.
Enrollment in the Kentucky exchange begins October 1.
Government officials have said an estimated 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians would be eligible to receive coverage through the new exchange. The Courier-Journal reports Beshear said Tuesday that a family of four earning $70,000 a year could buy a health plan for a little over $400 a month.
Gov. Steve Beshear has scheduled a news briefing Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on efforts to implement federal health care reforms in Kentucky.
The event is set for 1 p.m. EDT at the Capitol.
Beshear has been an advocate for the reforms that he says will provide access to medical care to more than 600,000 uninsured Kentucky residents. Nearly half of those will be added to the state's Medicaid program. The remainder, he said, will be able to get insurance through an online health benefits exchange.
Joining Beshear for the briefing will be Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes, Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange Executive Director Carrie Banahan and Kentucky Department of Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark.
Newly-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau show nearly 17 percent of Kentuckians under the age of 65 lack health insurance. Those figures are similar to the health insurance outlook in Tennessee and Indiana, as well.
In Kentucky, Daviess County has a relatively low number of those without insurance, at 14.5 percent. Logan County, meanwhile, has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in the state, at 22.3 percent.
The Census Bureau numbers are from 2011, and take into account each state’s residents under the age of 65, looking at all races, genders, and income levels.
You can see the Census Bureau's data in a county-by-county breakdown of Kentucky here.
Tennessee's information is here, and Indiana's can be seen here.
The University of Louisville is giving Norton Healthcare 30 days to back out of an agreement with the University of Kentucky to jointly operate Kosair Children's Hospital.
Norton announced the partnership last week, saying it wanted to strengthen pediatric care in the commonwealth. This surprised U of L officials, who have also been trying to negotiate a similar contract with Norton. U of L says the lease agreement for Kosair says the property "shall be used for the benefit of the University of Louisville."
U of L Vice President of Health Affairs David Dunn says the school has already acted on the assumption it would further partner with Norton and Kosair. He says the school has spent millions of dollars expanding operations at the hospital, and he expected to be reimbursed under an eventual partnership.
“And they’ve [U of L] done it with the understanding that Norton at some point—we thought it was a long time ago—would make good on their promises, and these are verbal promises.”