health insurance

Health
7:38 pm
Sun September 7, 2014

Foundation Looking To Award More Grants To Cover Family Medical Expenses in Kentucky

Tonya Ratliff’s 15-year-old son Tyler has been living with diabetes for 10 years.  Two years ago, doctors told the Owensboro family they’d have to start replacing the insert in Tyler’s diabetes pump more frequently.

“It already was a lot, and that would double it," she said. "So I was like ‘I don’t think I can do that,'."

With three sons, it would be an extra financial burden the Ratliff family. Their doctor told them about a foundation that helps pay for medical expenses not covered by a healthcare plan.  

Since 2007, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation has given 7,500 grants across the country. In the last three years, 90 of them have been in Kentucky, providing nearly $300,000 for families with children 16 and under. The organization is trying to increase the number of Kentucky families who receive assistance.

“It was a life-changing experience for us, because we literally lived paycheck to paycheck and this was a great burden off of us,” said Ratliff.

The program can cover up to $5,000 dollars in expenses, and each child can receive a maximum of $10,000 over a lifetime.

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Health
1:05 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Poll: Kentucky Sees Second Biggest Drop in Number of Those Without Health Insurance

A new poll shows the number of uninsured Kentuckians dropped to 12 percent in July.

The percentage of people without health insurance in Kentucky has dropped at the second biggest rate in the nation.

According to a Gallup poll released this week, the  number of uninsured dropped from over 20 percent in 2013 to about 12 percent as of July 2014, reflecting an eight-and-a-half percent decline since the federal Affordable Care Act took effect. The only other state to experience a sharper decline was Arkansas, whose uninsured rate dropped about 10 percent.

The states rounding out the top five after Kentucky are Delaware, Washington and Colorado.

Gov. Steve Beshear touted the news in a press release, attributing the new data to the state’s implementation of the ACA via kynect, the state’s health insurance exchange.

The poll also reported that the rate of uninsured in 21 states like Kentucky that expanded Medicaid coverage under the ACA and set up their own  exchanges declined “more significantly” than those states that did not.

As of July, over 520,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in health care through the state exchange, with three-quarters of the newly insured enrolled in Medicaid.

Health
4:48 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

WKU Likely to Announce Proposed Changes to Employee Health Plans by End of August

WKU employees listened to a presentation about the future of the school's self-funded health plan.
Credit Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

WKU is beginning to prepare its employees for likely changes to the school’s health plan. At a forum Wednesday afternoon, representatives from the school’s Human Resources Department told workers that WKU’s self-funded model is coming under significant strain.

The school says it saw a 13.3 percent increase in medical expenses in 2013 compared to the previous year, with expenses exceeding revenue by more than $2 million.

WKU is predicting that unless changes are made, the school’s health plan expenses could increase by 8 to 10 percent in 2015.

No definitive announcement was made, however, about whether employee premiums or deductibles will be increasing. Speaking to WKU Public Radio after the forum, Assistant Director of Human Resources Kari Aikins described the school’s timeline for announcing any changes.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate and model these options financially over the next month, month-and-a-half, and then start making some formalized recommendations to our leadership and President--through our benefits committee--and hopefully have something set in stone by the end of August,” Aikens said.

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Health
2:57 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Report: Kentucky Ranks 10th Lowest for Uninsured

A new report finds  that Kentucky’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured people in the state.

The report, released Wednesday by the personal finance website WalletHub, finds that Kentucky now ranks 10th in the nation for the lowest number of uninsured individuals, at just under nine percent of the population. That number was over 17 percent before the ACA became law, reflecting an 8 percent drop in the rate in one year’s time.

It also found that about 30 percent of Kentuckians under 65 are enrolled in Medicaid.

Nearly 83,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in new private health insurance plans, and 265,000 have enrolled in  Medicaid as of April 2014.

Health
6:10 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Obamacare Sign-Ups Show Wide Variation By State, Ethnicity

Lauren Farnsworth (left) and April Buell hand out literature in late March encouraging people to get health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 10:08 am

New numbers and demographic information released by the White House Thursday reveal some telling details about the 8 million people who selected new health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces.

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Health
10:44 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Kentucky Health Commissioner Pleased with Insurance Sign-Ups by Young Invincibles

In a speech to WKU students, Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, Kentucky's Commissioner for Public Health, spoke of the recently-concluded enrollment period for health insurance.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s public health commissioner is encouraged by the number of young adults who enrolled in health insurance on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange. 

Fifty percent of new enrollees were under the age of 35, which Dr. Stephanie Mayfield says should mean cost savings.

"You would think this would be a healthier population who would be accessing the system for preventive measures and not as many chronic diseases," explained Mayfield.  "It's an opportunity to intervene in the still relatively early years and have less of a financial impact on the system."

Dr. Mayfield spoke Tuesday at WKU about Kentucky’s health challenges. 

The state has several initiatives underway that include reducing the rates of smoking, obesity, and cancer deaths, all by 2019.

Politics
2:55 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Stumbo: GOP Efforts to Defund ACA Won't Prevent Program from Moving Forward in Kentucky

House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook (left), confers with House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, during a meeting of the state budget conference committee.
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky’s highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker says language in the state’s budget that attempts to pull funding for the Affordable Care Act won’t kill the program.

Kentucky is set to begin paying a portion of the cost for expanded Medicaid and the health-insurance exchange in 2017. Provisions in the recently-passed state budget bar state money from going toward the program.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says it's largely symbolic.

“We know that that would have been probably something that we’d still been there debating, and so after reviewing the language and reviewing the governor’s implementation of what we call ‘Beshear Care,’ we didn’t feel like that this language would be egregious to the governor in moving forward.”

The governor’s office spearheaded Kentucky’s implementation of the ACA, but has declined to comment on the budget language.

Regional
5:00 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Final Sign-Up Day is Here for Kentucky's Health Exchange

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear visits the Kynect call center in Lexington.
Credit Kentucky State Government

Today marks an important deadline for the thousands of Kentuckians still without health insurance.  It’s the last day until November to sign up for Medicaid or private insurance on the state’s health exchange known as Kynect. 

Gwenda Bond in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says there will be some exceptions for qualifying events.

"If people lose their health insurance coverage for some reason, a job loss or change, a marriage or divorce, then they'll be able to sign up and apply for subsidies," says Gwenda Bond in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  "In addition to that, people will be able to sign up for Medicaid after the 31st."

Small businesses may also enroll in coverage at any time. 

Over the weekend, the state increased personnel and extended hours at the Kynect call center to accommodate a last-minute surge of enrollments. 

As of Friday afternoon, more than 350,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in coverage on the health exchange.

Health
2:27 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Obamacare's National Enrollment Looks OK, But States Matter More

Maygan Rollins, a field organizer with Enroll America, talked health insurance options with Jerry Correa during a recent campaign in Miami.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 11:23 pm

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

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Regional
4:32 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

With Enrollment Deadline Looming, 'Kynectors' Reach Out to Uninsured

Kynector Sandra Lindsey fielded questions Saturday from Jason Abney about obtaining health insurance.
Credit Lisa Autry

Just over a week from now is the deadline for Kentucky’s uninsured to get coverage through the state’s health care exchange known as Kynect.  The state is working to reach as much of the uninsured population as possible.

On Saturday, several Bowling Green residents turned out for a sign-up event at the Greenwood Mall.  Among them was 32-year-old Jason Abney who was frustrated trying to navigate the website on his own.

"I didn't know exactly which website to go to because when you pull up Kynect on the Internet, it goes to three or four pages at a time, and it was just a hassle," remarked Abney.

Abney has been without health insurance the past year-and-a-half.  He lost coverage when he left his job at a Bowling Green manufacturing plant. 

“I used to have insurance when I worked for Magna and it was pretty good insurance.  I had a car wreck and they paid a bunch of hospital bills, so it pays to have insurance," he added.

Abney got assistance from Sandra Lindsey with Community Action of Southern Kentucky.  She’s a ‘Kynector,’ someone who’s been trained by state officials to help the public navigate Kentucky’s health care exchange.

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