Kynect

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Kentucky Republicans view Tuesday's election results as a mandate to dismantle one of the country's most heralded health care programs in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear used an executive order to expand the eligibility requirements of Kentucky's Medicaid program, insuring an additional 400,000 people and reducing the state's uninsured rate from 20 percent in 2013 to 9 percent by the middle of this year.

But those 400,000 people were more than twice what state officials had originally projected. Combined with the existing Medicaid program, Kentucky taxpayers now pay for the health insurance of a quarter of the state's population. The state will begin paying for the expansion in 2017, and costs could surpass $300 million by 2020.

Bevin's lopsided victory underscores how politically divisive the law remains.

An analysis of health insurance data shows more than 16,000 Kentucky children obtained health insurance during the first year of the Affordable Care Act.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the State Health Access Data Assistance Center say the Kentucky's uninsured rate among children dropped 4.3 percent during the first year of the federal Affordable Care Act. Their analysis revealed more than 10 percent of the private insurance plans purchased on the state health exchange were for children.

Researchers say the increase is because the state health exchange offered discounted insurance plans to people who did not qualify for public insurance programs. And the increased marketing of the state health exchange prompted people who were already eligible for Medicaid to enroll.

Federal auditors say Kentucky officials had trouble making sure everyone purchasing discounted health insurance plans on Kynect met all of the federal requirements.

An audit from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General said Kentucky's health insurance exchange was generally effective in determining a person's eligibility. But officials did not always properly verify some applicants' identity or their eligibility for minimum essential coverage.

The findings do not mean state officials allowed ineligible people to purchase qualified health plans because the state had other methods of catching the problems.

Kentucky officials agreed with the auditor's findings and said they had fixed the problems. The system could have an influx of new shoppers as Kynect's largest insurer, the Kentucky Health Cooperative, announced last week it was going out of business.

Creative Commons

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado is looking into whether Kentucky can start selling its successful health insurance exchange program, Kynect, to other states.

Alvarado wants to offer the technology and expertise behind Kynect to other states for a fee. States currently have the option of creating their own insurance marketplace or using the federal government’s under the Affordable Care Act. More than 30 states currently rely on the federal exchange.

Alvarado, a Republican physician who represents Winchester, said profits from his plan could help pay for the future costs of expanded Medicaid in Kentucky, which are estimated at $1.1 billion over the next six years.

“It will provide our neighbors who want state exchanges a service that they want, and it would give our taxpayers a break from having to foot that bill in the future,” he said.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Kentucky has opened a special enrollment period through April 30th for the state-based health insurance exchange kynect, so Kentuckians can avoid possible tax penalties.  

 If you don't have coverage in 2015 you’ll pay the higher of these two amounts: two percent of your household income or 325 dollars per adult.

Governor Beshear says the percentage of uninsured Kentuckians dropped from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 9.8 percent last year. He says that moved Kentucky from 40th to 11th best in the country.  

For more information log on to kynect.ky.gov. 

Sunday at midnight is the deadline for Kentuckians to sign up through Kentucky’s health care exchange, in order to get coverage for 2015. The Governor’s office reports more than 150,000 people have signed up for health care coverage since the current enrollment period began November 15.

Those without a plan after February 15 could face a tax penalty when filing this year that could exceed the annual cost of insurance.

More than 521,000 Kentuckians signed up for coverage during kynect’s first enrollment period.

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.

Kentucky State Government

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.

Commonwealth of Kentucky

Governing Magazine has named the executive director for Kentucky’s healthcare exchange, Carrie Banahan, as one of its nine “Public Officials of the Year” for 2014. 

Banahan oversaw the creation of kynect, which signed up 521,000 Kentuckians under the new healthcare law last year.  Banahan will be honored at a dinner in Washington, D.C. on December 4th.

Report Shows Kentucky Workers Still Struggling

Aug 29, 2014
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

A new report on the state of Kentucky workers suggests the state’s economy has a ways to go before it fully recovers from the 2008 recession.

But some relief has come as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

As we enter Labor Day Weekend in Kentucky, most workers will take a day off from a job whose wages have stagnated.

That’s one takeaway from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy’s annual report, “The State of Working Kentucky 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.

Beshear Addresses National Healthcare Conference

Jun 17, 2014
Office of Ky Governor

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.

Pair of New Insurers Interested In Joining 'Kynect'

Jun 17, 2014
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

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.

Paul Not Sure What Would Happen To State Exchange

May 30, 2014
WKU Public Radio

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.

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