By Carla Anderson
February 28, 2014
The number of Kansans who selected a private health insurance plan through the federal marketplace grew by more than 8,000 in January and totaled 22,388 as of Feb. 1 according a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enrollment report. About 9,000 more qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Among Kansas residents selecting a private health plan, 76 percent qualified for financial assistance, which is 6 points lower than the national figure. Seventeen percent of Kansans selected a bronze plan (19 percent nationally), 56 percent selected a silver plan (62 percent nationally), 22 percent selected a gold plan (12 percent nationally), 3 percent selected a platinum plan (7 percent nationally) and 2 percent selected a catastrophic plan (1 percent nationally). Twenty-eight percent of enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.
Kansas is among the states using HealthCare.gov. The decision against a Kansas-run exchange came despite the efforts of Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger and some initial support from Gov. Sam Brownback. Brownback, while critical of the Affordable Care Act, initially supported Praeger’s exchange planning efforts. However, he grew less and less supportive over time. In August 2011, Brownback returned a federal grant intended to help the state develop technical infrastructure for running the exchange. The return of the grant effectively quashed a state-run exchange, so Praeger began recommending state-federal partnership as a way for the state to retain some control. In November 2012, Brownback announced that the state would default to a federally operated exchange, issuing a statement that said in part, “My administration will not partner with the federal government to create a state-federal partnership insurance exchange because we will not benefit from it and implementing it could costs Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Kansas decided against expanding KanCare, which is the state Medicaid program. A poll, conducted in December 2013, found that 72 percent of registered Kansans voters favor expanding the program to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. While Gov. Brownback says he might consider a “private option” similar to approach taken in other conservative-leaning states. However, the Republican-controlled Legislature seems unlikely to take any action on a Medicaid bill this year.
Four insurance companies are offering policies through the marketplace in Kansas: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Coventry Health and Life Insurance, and Coventry Health Care of Kansas. You can see which companies are available in a particular county at insureKS.org. The four companies are offering a total of 72 plan options.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Kansas is $197 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
According to HHS, nearly 327,000 Kansans (16 percent of the state population) are uninsured and eligible to use the marketplace.
Enrollment for private insurance in 2014 continues through March 31. Policies purchased by the 15th of the month will be effective the first day of the following month. Individuals who remain uninsured after March may face a tax penalty of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. Enrollment for Medicaid and CHIP continues throughout the year.
State Exchange Profile: Kansas
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Kansas’ progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Kansas Insurance Department, Consumer Assistance Division
Assists consumers who have purchased insurance on the individual market or who have insurance through an employer who only does business in Kansas.
(800) 432-2484 / Local: (785) 296-7829
Let your Kansas governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Kansas Governor Sam Brownback