Why is Medicaid getting most Kentuckians who have found insurance through the health exchange?

11/07/2013 11:33 AM

One of the biggest criticisms of Kentucky’s early returns from the state’s health exchange is that an overwhelming majority have landed on the government’s Medicaid program rather than private insurance.

But state officials say that’s to be expected early in the open enrollment period, which began Oct. 1 and ends March 31.

The reason the number of Medicaid enrollees is so much higher so far is because if someone’s income qualifies them to be on that program, they’re automatically signed up. It’s like a turning on a light switch.

Others who earn more than 138 percent of the poverty rate — $15,856 for an individual — can find private insurance through the exchange from either two or three companies depending on the area in which they live. But that process often takes longer so that people have time to mull over their options and the cost of the plan, said Gwenda Bond, assistant communications director for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

As of this fall, Kentucky had 640,000 people who were uninsured. The latest numbers provided by the Health Cabinet show that 32,485 of those uninsured have enrolled in new health coverage. Here’s how those numbers break down:

308,000 of them are eligible for Medicaid now that it has been expanded to cover more low-income Kentuckians. And so far, 27,854 individuals have enrolled in Medicaid.

The other 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians make too much to qualify for Medicaid but could find health coverage with private and nonprofit insurers through the exchange.
But only 4,631 of those individuals have signed up so far — less than 1.5 percent of those who are expected to qualify.

Many of those looking to sign up for private insurance also have the ability to apply for government subsidies through the health exchange to help pay for their coverage if they make less than 400 percent of the poverty rate: $45,960 a year for an individual.

Jacqueline Pitts

Jacqueline Pitts joined the cn|2 political team in June 2012. A graduate of WKU, Jacqueline grew up in Nashville, TN and is looking forward to having a front row seat to Kentucky politics. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqueline_cn2. She can be reached at 502-792-1114 or jacqueline.pitts@twcnews.com.


  • viewer wrote on November 07, 2013 01:51 PM :

    This was put together really well Jacqueline. Really good information for us to have. Keep up the good work. A lot of work needs to be done to figure all this out. Hopefully we can make the ACA better going forward for us all. The viewer

  • Andrew wrote on November 07, 2013 08:27 PM :

    Expanding Medicaid was an enormous financial mistake for Ky. Once the federal 100% subsidies run out in 3 years we are back to the same state fed split we had previously. The difference is the bill for Kentuckians will be much higher as more will be signed up for Medicaid. To further compound this problem is that Medicaid is 2nd class health care and many Drs do not participate and many in the future will not participate in a system that does not allow them to treat patients in a professional and thorough manner. We cannot just print money as the federal government has been fond of doing and we must balance our budget. It will not be easy thanks to Governor Beshear who expanded this program.

  • Bruce Layne wrote on November 08, 2013 06:46 AM :

    How about some facts we won’t hear from governor Beshear:

    1) Kentucky’s healthcare exchange was illegally created by governor Beshear’s executive order. This is clearly unconstitutional. The governor doesn’t have the power to pound his scepter on the floor and authorize such a drastic expansion of government, and huge increases in spending. This is clearly the job of the General Assembly, and not the governor. Governor Beshear deliberately bypassed our state legislature because he knew that Obamacare is extremely unpopular in Kentucky and there is no way he’d ever pass a bill to LEGALLY implement Obamacare, so he did it by executive decree. So, why isn’t our legislature representing us and stopping the governor’s unconstitutional overreach?

    2) According to a whistle blower on the inside, the most frequently asked question by callers to Kentucky’s healthcare exchange is, “What income do I need to put down to get free health insurance?” Callers report their own income and there is no income verification at this point. Give them a low number and get free healthcare.

    3) Kentucky already couldn’t afford to pay the existing Medicaid benefits, and now, the program that was already underfunded has been expanded so it’s even more underfunded… and the governor is bragging about this as a success. Credibility must be severely strained to make a comparison to anything in the real world of the free market, but this would be analogous to a bankrupt car dealership giving away cars that it borrowed money to purchase from the manufacturer and then bragging about its monthly sales figures. Yeah, it’s that insane.

    4) Governor Beshear tells us that people are overwhelmingly signing up for “free” healthcare benefits over private insurance that the healthcare exchanges were ostensibly set up to help provide because, naturally, it’s easier to sign them up for Medicaid, but the free market side of the healthcare exchange will kick in after the rest of the people have time to “mull over” their insurance options. Clearly, the government is paying for health insurance for more people, so more people are signing up for the “free” healthcare. And even for those who don’t lie on the self reported income to get free health insurance, the government is offering subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty rate. If the government in Kentucky had a large budget surplus, this massive redistribution of wealth would still be illegal and ill advised, but our government doesn’t have the money to buy healthcare for everyone. This graduated path to single payer government supplied socialist healthcare is the fast track to the poor house.

    So, just how good is Obamacare in Kentucky? Men are being dropped by their insurers because their plans don’t cover pregnancy, and if they don’t enroll through Kentucky’s healthcare exchange and buy drastically more expensive health insurance they will be fined for not buying health insurance. Yep. That’s really how it works. And Beshear & Co. is crowing about how well this government health insurance plan is working. If government decided that it needed a program to ensure that the sun would reliably rise in the east every morning, within two weeks our planet would be a dark, frozen, lifeless ball floating in deep space.

    Thank you to CN2 Politics for covering this story. It must have been very difficult to factually report on this and not have the appearance of a full blown attack on the governor’s healthcare exchange.

  • Davida wrote on November 08, 2013 07:24 AM :

    Jacqueline, are you saying that my private health care plan is not cancelled even if it does not comply with the regulations imposed under the Affordable Care Act? I understood that plans that were not in compliance with the ACA were no longer able to be in effect. I remember President Obama saying that if I like my health care plan I could keep it no matter what. What happened to that promise?

  • daniel wrote on November 08, 2013 04:25 PM :

    The big fancy KY Exchange has only found insurance for those that can pay , i.e.(1 or 3 thousand) while 280,000 lost their insurance. The gains went into Medicaid and it was already present, but the exchanged claims they are doing so much to help.. LOL..
    This wholde program appears to be insuring those that are uninsured and uninsuring those that had insurance. Robinhood
    with no one left to work.. The state of Deleware has only added / insured 4 people since the start.
    Cost = $4 million +..WOW..!! for 4 people..

  • Samuel wrote on November 08, 2013 08:18 PM :

    Obamacare was designed for millions to lose their health care coverage. You ony need to look at the Federal register and see that the estimate of those that would lose their health care plan is 93 million. Obama lied.

    “If you like your health care plan you can keep it, period. If you like your Dr you can keep your Dr , period.” Barack Obama
  • ironhorzmn wrote on November 11, 2013 02:15 AM :

    Obamacare’s ultimate agenda is socialized healthcare for all. What smoother and easier way to accomplish this than by simply transitioning as many Americans as they can get away with onto Medicare and Medicaid? Could Obamacare simply morph into Medicare for all?

  • SquirrelHill wrote on November 11, 2013 10:44 AM :

    159 reasons why it’s OK to laugh at anyone who thought Obamacare was a good idea: http://danfromsquirrelhill.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/obamacare-59/

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