Ky. health-insurance exchange working better than elsewhere; website to undergo scheduled maintenance this weekend

Despite its first-day problems, Kentucky’s new health-insurance website was the nation’s top performer in the new system, the director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation told The Wall Street Journal.

“Kentucky seems to have a smoother rollout than some other states,” Jennifer Tolbert told reporter Adrian Campo-Flores. Among the sites she visited on the first day, “The one I got through most easily on to get
prices and comparisons was the Kynect site.”

Ronnie Ellis of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. reports, “At least so far, the data appears to show it’s working better in Kentucky
than in most states and there’s a lot of interest by those who
previously couldn’t afford health insurance.”

“State officials and outside experts attribute the smoother rollout to a
variety of factors, including intensive testing of the system, a
less-flashy but more-efficient website and strong coordination among
state agencies involved in the effort,” Campo-Flores reports. The site “doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that
other states tried to incorporate,” Tolbert said.
“It’s very straightforward in allowing consumers to browse plans
without first creating an account.”

State officials and Joel Ario, a managing director at Manatt Health
and a former federal health official, cited the placement of the exchange in the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which had experience setting up the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system. KASPER monitors prescription purchases. The cabinet also includes also runs the Medicaid program and the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program; people with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty can sign up for Medicaid through the exchange, which is also a portal for KCHIP.

Gov. Steve Beshear

According to Gov. Steve Beshear’s office, as of 4 p.m. today, Kentuckians had started more than 15,000 applications for insurance through Kynect and completed more than 10,000, and more than 6,000 had obtained coverage. More than 140,000 had conducted pre-screenings to determine qualifications for subsidies, discounts, KCHIP or Medicaid.

The Kynect call center had managed more than 25,000 calls. One call was taken by Beshear, and was from “a self-identified Republican from London, who said the new law has
increased his insurance costs and is nothing more than an “Obama tax on
hard-working people” to pay for insurance for others,” Ellis reports. “Beshear told the caller to check out rates and plans at Kynect.”

Beshear told the caller, “There’s a world of misinformation out there, but you don’t have to
take my word for it. Just go online and find out for
yourself. It’s not going to cost you one dime to go and check; if you
qualify for a subsidy you’re going to be very excited about what you

The call center’s number is 1-855-459-6328 (4ky-nect). The call center offers callers additional tips for a
shorter call time:
· Early afternoon tends to have a slightly shorter wait time.
· If hold time exceeds five minutes, an automated prompt will ask if you would like to leave a number for a customer-service representative to call back.
· If you are online and encounter a problem, you can email the call center and a representative will respond “in a
timely manner,” a news release from Beshear’s office promises.

The Kynect site will
undergo planned maintenance tonight and tomorrow, so “users may experience
occasional outages during the maintenance window, scheduled from 11 p.m.
Eastern time Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday,” the release says.

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