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Kentucky health insurance exchange

Kynect touted for state-run success with 521,000 total enrollments

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The 2015 open enrollment period begins in just over two months, on November 15, 2014.  Although Kynect, Kentucky’s state-run health insurance marketplace, was already one of the nation’s most successful exchanges in 2014, they have been hard at work making improvements and updates over the summer to make the second open enrollment even better.

Kynect has been meeting with brokers, insurance carriers, and Kynectors (navigators) to get feedback and learn what areas need improvement. The call center is increasing staffing levels for the 2015 open enrollment period, and it is undergoing a systems upgrade to be more efficient and reduce wait times.  In addition, more agents, brokers, and Kynectors will be participating in the 2015 open enrollment.  Kynect is also debuting a mobil app this fall, which will help to further facilitate outreach and customer service, especially for the under-35 “young invincible” population.

Kentucky accepted the Obama administration’s March proposal to allow “grandmothered” 2013 (non-ACA-compliant) plans to be renewed for up to two more years, so residents who kept their 2013 plans will have the option to extend their plan again into 2015 and skip open enrollment.  However, Kynect will be actively marketing to that demographic this fall, letting them know that they may be able to get a better plan with a lower premium if they purchase new coverage through Kynect.

The exchange is encouraging residents to use the Kynect website create an account now, and also find local Kynectors or agents and set up appointments to meet with them during open enrollment.  They do not anticipate having 2015 plan or rate information available prior to Nov. 15, but it’s beneficial for residents to do some of the initial legwork ahead of time.

During the open enrollment period for 2014 coverage, 82,747 people selected a private health plan and 357,990 qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Kynect officials said about 75 percent of those who signed up for coverage did not previously have insurance. Kynect also reported that 50 percent of all enrollees (for private insurance or Medicaid) and 33 percent of those enrolling in private insurance are under age 35.

During the first half of 2014, Kentucky had the second-highest drop in uninsured rate in the country, going from 20.4 percent uninsured in 2013 to 11.9 percent at the end of June 2014.

By July 21, the total number of enrollees in private plans and Medicaid combined had reached 521,000 – a total gain of about 80,000 people since open enrollment ended.  ACAsignups.net is estimating that about 91,000 of the total enrollments are in private plans, and the rest in Medicaid.

Nearly 75 percent of Kynect enrollees in 2014 qualified for Medicaid, and the majority of those enrollees were previously uninsured.  In order to help people who have little experience with the health care system or health insurance, the exchange has worked to create a consumer guide called “How to Kynect” and is providing it to new enrollees in order to help them learn how to select a primary care doctor, when to seek health care, when to visit the ER, how to use the pharmacy benefits on their plan, and understand insurance terminology.

People who enrolled in 2014 will be auto-enrolled in that same plan for 2015 unless they choose to change their coverage during the 2015 open enrollment period, which runs from November 15, 2014 until February 15, 2015.  Enrollees who are receiving premium tax credits (subsidies) should be aware that the local benchmark plan upon which subsidies are based could change, which would result in a new subsidy amount for 2015 and might mean that a different plan presents the best value next year.  Kynectors and local brokers will be able to explain this in detail, and current enrollees are encouraged to utilize open enrollment to make sure that they have the best coverage to fit their needs in 2015.

Gov. Steve Beshear went against public sentiment in deciding the state would run its own marketplace. In an article in The New York Times, Beshear urged state residents to set aside politics and use the marketplace to get insured. “You don’t have to like the president; you don’t have to like me. Because this isn’t about him, and it’s not about me. It’s about you, your family and your children. So do yourself a favor. Find what you can get for yourself.”

Kynect was one of the few marketplaces established through an executive order. Beshear’s order to establish the exchange in July 2012 followed months of seeming inaction on the exchange by the executive and legislative branches in the state. Kynect is part of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and it is overseen by 19-member board appointed by Beshear.

Kentucky spent about $11 million on outreach and marketing for 2014 open enrollment, and it trained 5,000 people to support enrollment — including state employees, insurance agents, volunteers and representative of various community groups and social service organizations. These outreach efforts drove Kentucky’s enrollment totals.

Five insurers participated in Kentucky’s marketplace during 2014 open enrollment: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Bluegrass Family Health, Humana, Kentucky Health Cooperative, and UnitedHealthcare.  The exchange reported in late August 2014 that WellCare and CareSource will be offering individual plans in Kynect for 2015 (those two carriers currently offer Medicaid managed care plans in Kentucky, but have not previously participated in the private individual market).  In addition, two dental carriers, Dentegra and Delta Dental of Kentucky, will also be offering plans through Kynect for 2015.

Kentucky health insurance exchange links

Kynect –  Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection
855-4kynect (855-459-6328)

A Healthier Kentucky

State Exchange Profile: Kentucky
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Kentucky’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.

Kentucky Health Insurance Advocate, Kentucky Department of Insurance
Assists people insured by private health plans, Medicaid, or other plans in resolving problems pertaining to their health coverage; assists uninsured residents with access to care.
(877) 587-7222 /DOI.CAPOmbudsman@ky.gov