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.
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.
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.
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.
The vast majority of Kentucky's health benefit exchange enrollees are signing up for coverage under Medicaid.
Numbers released Thursday by the state show 80 percent of those who have signed up for medical coverage through Kentucky's benefit exchange have done so through the expanded Medicaid program. The remaining 20 percent will get coverage through private insurance companies.
Kentucky has enrolled nearly 300,000 people so far in its health exchange, known as Kynect. Deputy Executive Director Bill Nold says officials are pleased with the number of young Kentuckians who have signed up through the exchange.
"If you look at our total enrollment, about 48 percent are under the age of 35," Nold said.
Health exchange operators throughout the nation have been concerned that not enough younger, healthier people would sign up for coverage before the March 31 deadline.
Those younger customers are needed to subsidize health care for older and less healthy individuals.
Sign Up Saturday
To avoid a tax penalty in 2015, people must have signed up for insurance by the end of March, or at least be insured for nine months of the year.