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.
Gov. Steve Beshear addressed a national healthcare conference Tuesday in Washington, where he touted Kentucky’s success in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Beshear told attendees at the State of Enrollment conference that while Kentuckians continue to hold a negative view of President Barack Obama and his health care law, people are big fans of the state’s health insurance exchange, Kynect.
“Another thing we did was carefully separate the politics of the Affordable Care Act from the health care impact of Kynect," said Beshear. "That was a very fine line to walk, and I’m still walking it.”
State Democrats have picked up on the messaging, frequently referring to the state’s implementation as “Beshearcare.”
More than 421,000 Kentuckians have enrolled through Kynect during its six-month opening signup period.
At least two new health insurance companies say they want to sell policies on Kentucky's health insurance exchange.
The exchange, named kynect, is the website where people can sign up for the state's Medicaid program or purchase discounted private health insurance plans, depending on their income.
Ohio-based CareSource and Florida-based WellCare have filed paperwork with state regulators indicating their interest in selling policies through kynect. Both companies provide Medicaid plans in Kentucky but have not sold on the individual market.
If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he did not know what would happen to the 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the state's health exchange.
The Republican senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate told reporters Friday he favors repealing all of the federal Affordable Care Act. But he acknowledged there is no easy answer to what would happen to those who are insured through the state exchange, which was made possible by the federal law.
Paul's comments come after fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said last week he thought the state's health exchange was unconnected to the Affordable Care Act. McConnell later said state officials would determine the fate of the exchange.
We learned last week the number of Kentuckians who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act surpassed 400,000. Thursday, the federal government released numbers for Kentucky’s neighbors to the north and the south.
Kentucky was aggressive in promoting Kynect, but neither Tennessee nor Indiana chose to set up a similar state exchange, directing residents instead to the federal site. On Thursday, the federal government said signups in Tennessee totaled 151, 000 about 23 percent more than forecast, boosted by a surge of sign-ups in March, the final month to enroll. In Indiana, meantime 132,000 residents signed up through the Affordable Care Act.
Numbers show that’s only about half of those who were eligible to do so.
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.
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.