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.
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.
Sen. Mitch McConnell and Gov. Steve Beshear squared off in a heated debate about the federal health-care law at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast.
The Democratic governor said Thursday the Affordable Care Act will work in Kentucky.
Beshear said the law will improve Kentucky's health problems, which include some of the nation's worst rates for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
McConnell, the Senate's top-ranking Republican, said the law is driving up health insurance premiums and forcing employers to reduce working hours for many employees. McConnell said the law should be repealed.
Tea party activists have asked a judge to resolve a lawsuit over the legality of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange by granting a summary judgment.
Irvine attorney Michael Dean filed a motion Thursday asking that Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd rule in favor of the activists. They also want a permanent injunction that would essentially shut down the exchange, a product of the federal health care overhaul intended to help uninsured people arrange health insurance coverage.
Attorneys for the state asked last month that the tea party lawsuit be dismissed. But Shepherd refused.
Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange is set to begin open enrollment Oct. 1, and the exchange starts operation Jan. 1.