Kansas health insurance exchange
Kansas health insurance exchange
By Carla Anderson
July 24, 2014
Obamacare open enrollment in Kansas has ended for 2014. People who get married or divorced, change jobs, have a child or experience another qualifying event may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Enrollment for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continues throughout the year. Individuals who don’t have health insurance that provides “minimum essential coverage” may have to pay a penalty: $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater.
Open enrollment for 2015 coverage through the marketplace begins Nov. 15.
Signups for qualified health plans (QHPs) in Kansas grew 95 percent — from 29,309 as of March 1 to 57,013 as of April 19 — in the final weeks of 2014 open enrollment. While Kansas is not expanding its Medicaid program, nearly 14,000 people who visited the marketplace qualified for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under existing eligibility criteria.
Among Kansas residents selecting a QHP, 85 percent qualified for financial assistance, which matches the national figure. Nineteen percent of Kansans selected a bronze plan (20 percent nationally), 60 percent selected a silver plan (65 percent nationally), 16 percent selected a gold plan (9 percent nationally), 2 percent selected a platinum plan (5 percent nationally) and 4 percent selected a catastrophic plan (2 percent nationally). Thirty-one percent of Kansas enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.
Kansas opted to use HealthCare.gov rather than implement a state-run marketplace. 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 expressed openness to a “private option” similar to approach taken in other conservative-leaning states, the Republican-controlled Legislature didn’t act on Medicaid expansion in 2014. The Kansas Hospital Association continues to advocate for expansion, and the organization announced it is drafting a proposal for legislative consideration in 2015.
During the 2014 session, the Kansas legislature debated a bill (SB 362) that would have subjected anyone who wanted to serve as a navigator to additional scrutiny beyond that already required by federal law. Kansas navigators would have been subjected to criminal background checks, been fingerprinted, required to disclose their credit histories, and charged an annual $100 registration fee. The bill would have also prohibited navigators from recommending a specific insurance policy for a consumer. The bill passed the Senate, but didn’t get out of committee in the House.
Kansas health insurance exchange links
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