About half of uninsured Kentuckians have signed up for coverage through kynect by deadline day

03/31/2014 08:38 PM

Kentucky’s Health Exchange, kynect, has matched up more than half of previously-uninsured Kentuckians with health coverage, and on the deadline day saw a last surge of sign-ups.

The enrollment numbers spiked Monday with an increase of 1,500 people signing up between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. followed by an additional 1,300 enrollees from 11 a.m. until noon. As of noon Monday, 362,400 Kentuckians had signed up for either Medicaid or a qualified health plan through kynect, said Carrie Banahan, the executive director of Kentucky’s health exchange that was created through the Affordable Care Act.

Of those, 80 percent have enrolled in Medicaid, which covers health care for those who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty rate. The other 20 percent are signing up for private health plans through kynect.

Kentucky had roughly 640,000 uninsured residents last year. And as a result of another effect of the Affordable Care Act, 280,000 more Kentuckians couldn’t get their plans renewed because they didn’t adhere to some of the other requirements in the law. Most of those people have worked out renewals of plans with their insurance companies, Banahan said. But about a quarter of the people signing up for qualified health plans through kynect report that previously had health insurance. So the true figure of how many Kentuckians needed health insurance through the exchange could be closer to 700,000, she said.

The official count of how many Kentuckians sign up through the exchange won’t be known until after April 15. A Kentuckian who already has put in an application and is deciding between bids from private health insurance plans has until April 15 to make a selection.

But anyone who hasn’t applied by midnight won’t be able to get on a private insurance plan through the exchange until next year’s open enrollment period begins in November, unless a person loses a job, and thus, coverage.

So Banahan also said unless there is a circumstance that prevented the person from signing up before midnight, they will be have to pay a $95 tax penalty under the law.

“If individuals apply today and through no fault of their own, let’s say they run in to some kind of technical issue, we will work with them,” Banahan said. “Additionally if you apply today and you haven’t selected a qualified health plan, we are going to allow you until April 15th to select a plan.”

Kentucky has seen better enrollment in many areas than other states, including younger people signing up.

Banahan said 49 percent of the people who have gotten Medicaid or private insurance through kynect are under the age of 35. And 32 percent of those enrolled in the qualified health plans from private entities are under 35.

Banahan said that moving forward, the state would be working on getting the message out that many qualify for tax credits to help pay for their insurance plan. And Banahan said one of their target audiences will be those who lost their insurance plans because they were out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act.

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