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.
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.
A major deadline looms at the end of the month for Kentuckians still seeking health insurance.
March 31 is the last day until November to sign up for insurance on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange.
"They would not be able to enroll in coverage again until the next open enrollment period which, right now, we understand to be starting November 15 for effective dates of coverage of January 1, 2015," explains Janie Miller, CEO of Kentucky Health Cooperative. "So basically for the remainder of this year they would not be able to get coverage for themselves or their family."
There will be exceptions for qualifying events such as marriage or job changes.
According to the state, 279,601 people had obtained health coverage on the exchange, including 222,719 individuals who enrolled in Medicaid and 56,882 individuals who picked up private insurance as of last Friday.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has to decide by Friday his intentions regarding the setting up of a statewide health insurance exchange. The exchanges are required under the federal Affordable Care Act. States have to inform Washington by Friday whether they plan to establish their own health insurance exchanges, or whether they want the federal government to create an exchange for them.