30% of uninsured Kentuckians still don’t know about Kynect health-insurance exchange despite heavy advertising, poll finds

By Melissa Landon and Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kynect, Kentucky’s online marketplace for health insurance, launched on Oct. 1 under the federal health-reform law. In a poll taken from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25, about 77 percent of Kentuckians said they knew about it, but only 70 percent of those without health coverage said they did.

Kynect has used federal funds for a heavy advertising and outreach campaign, but the Kentucky Health Issues Poll found that 30 percent of the uninsured had heard “only a little” about it, and another 30 percent said they had heard “nothing at all,” the phrases used in the poll. While they have had more time since the poll to learn about the exchange, the poll results suggest that more outreach is needed to fulfill the law’s objective of getting health coverage for as many people as possible. March 31 is this year’s enrollment deadline.

Kynect Executive Director Carrie Banahan told Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader that the ads and outreach will continue, and the exchange is making extra efforts to reach young people. The poll found that among people aged 18 to 29, adults without high-school diplomas, residents of Northern Kentucky, and people whose household income is 138 percent or less of the federal poverty threshold, 32 percent of each group “reported hearing ‘nothing at all’ about Kynect,” said the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which sponsored the poll with Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

The report mentioned those earning 138 percent of poverty or less because they are newly eligible for free coverage under Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled. Those who make more, up to $94,000 for a family of four, are eligible for federal tax subsidies for policies bought through Kynect. On the exchange, people can find out whether they are qualified for Medicaid and the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program, look for individual and small-business insurance plans, and see if they qualify for payment assistance or tax credits.

The poll indicated that the uninsured are looking for information about Kynect. About 20 percent of adult Kentuckians reported seeking information about it, but 36 percent of uninsured adults did.

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