Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 5:53 am
With another impending deadline for coverage, enrollment in Kentucky’s health insurance exchange is steadily growing, says Nicole Comeaux, deputy executive director for the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.
So far, 12,500 individuals have enrolled in qualified health plans and 25,700 individuals have newly enrolled in Medicaid coverage, Comeaux said during a wide-ranging conference call Wednesday with health care exchange directors from other states.
The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well Being analysis.
During the fourth quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate dropped to 12.9 percent. This is the lowest recorded rate since Galup-Healthways began tracking the measure daily in 2008.
A year ago the uninsured rate was 17.1 percent.
The survey found that the uninsured rate declined as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state health insurance exchanges in the first and second quarters of 2014.
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.