One in 13 Kentuckians have health coverage through Kynect

Nearly 322,000 Kentuckians had enrolled for health coverage through the state’s new insurance exchange through 6 p.m. Thursday, March 20, and three-fourths of them didn’t have coverage before, according to the state’s preliminary analysis.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s office said in a news release that enrollments are expected to keep growing in the final 10 days of
open enrollment, which ends March 31: “In the past seven days, nearly 3,100 Kentuckians have signed up each day for quality, affordable health insurance.”

Of the 321,932 enrollees, 257,477, or 80 percent, qualified for coverage under the federal-state Medicaid program, and 64,455 bought private insurance. Another 10,096 have been found eligible for a subsidy to buy a policy but haven’t bought one.

The release said 7.5 percent of Kentucky’s population now has health insurance through the exchange, which the state has branded Kynect. The release said 32 percent of those in private health plans through the exchange are under 35, a key group for success of health reform.

“In these final
days of open enrollment, we strongly encourage those folks to complete their applications
and choose a plan,” said Carrie Banahan, executive director of Kynect. “After March 31, subsidies to help cover the cost of a
private health plan won’t be available again until the fall enrollment period –
and by that point, being without insurance may cost you on your taxes.”

Individuals who don’t enroll by March 31 could face a financial penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, for every uninsured member of a household. Under federal health reform, the penalty will increase significantly from year to year.

With the first phase of Kynect about to end, Beshear’s office reported the benefits of health reform to Kentucky health-care providers. It said they have been paid more than
$45 million for treatment of people that reform made eligible for

The new income limit for Medicaid recipients is 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold; before reform, it was 69 percent. The newly eligible include individuals making less than $15,856 a year and families of four with annual income below $32,499.

“The vast majority of the nearly 20,000
newly insured patients seen by hospitals and reimbursed for services would have
been considered indigent prior to Medicaid expansion and most likely would have
been written off as uncompensated charity care by the hospitals,” the news release said. “These figures don’t include reimbursements to health-care providers for patients with new private health insurance.”

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