Kynect, Kentucky’s state-run health insurance exchange, is considered one of the nation’s best. More than 521,000 people obtained health insurance coverage through Kynect in 2014 — either private health insurance or Medicaid.
One sign of Kynect’s success is widespread awareness: a poll from late 2014 shows that nearly 80 percent of Kentucky residents have heard of the exchange and nearly 52 percent of Kentuckians between the ages of 30 and 64 said they knew “a lot” about the
Another sign is the Beshear administration’s inclusion of Knyect in its list of top accomplishments of 2014. The state’s uninsured rate dropped to nearly 8 points, and the newly insured are taking advantage of their coverage. The state reported 26,000 more people will have cholesterol screenings, 7,000 more women will have mammograms, 10,000 more women will have pap smears, and 14,000 more people with depression will be treated.
The second open enrollment period started on Nov. 15, 2014, and the success of 2014 is continuing. By Dec. 15 more than 100,000 people had enrolled in coverage for 2015. About a quarter of those signing up were new enrollees. Of the approximate 25,000 new enrollees, more than 9,200 people signed up for qualified health plans (QHP), and more than 6,000 of them qualified for financial assistance. About 16,100 of the new Kynect enrollees qualified for Medicaid.
The 2015 enrollment period continues through Feb. 15, 2015.
Enhancement for 2015
Even though Kentucky’s state-run marketplace was already one of the nation’s most successful exchanges in 2014, officials worked hard to make improvements and updates to make the second open enrollment even better.
Kynect met with brokers, insurance carriers, and Kynectors (navigators) to get feedback and learn what areas need improvement. Enhancements include:
- The call center increased the number of customer service representatives from 185 at the start of the first open enrollment period to 400 for the start of the 2015 open enrollment period. The call center also expanded operating hours and underwent a systems upgrade to reduce wait times and enable more efficient operations.
- More agents, brokers, and Kynectors are participating in the 2015 open enrollment.
- Kynect debuted a mobile app to enhance outreach and customer service, especially for the under-35, “young invincible” population. The app allows users to check plan options and see rates, and then complete their application on the Kynect website. As of Dec. 16, more than 3,800 people had downloaded the app.
- Kynect launched a full-service enrollment center at the Fayette Mall in Lexington. Through Dec. 16, more than 4,200 people visited the center and 2,343 people applied for new coverage.
2015 options on Kynect
If you bought health insurance through Kynect for 2014, you’ll be automatically signed up for the same plan in 2015. However, a new plan might be a better option for you in 2015. Some plans have changed, and if you’re eligible for a subsidy, that may have changed, too. Take time to look to actively re-enroll, or contact a Kynector or insurance agent for help understanding all of the details.
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 is actively marketing to this group, letting them know that they may be able to get a better plan with a lower premium if they purchase new coverage through Kynect.
Five insurers are participating in Kentucky’s individual marketplace during 2015 open enrollment: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, CareSource, Humana, Kentucky Health Cooperative, and Wellcare of Kentucky. WellCare and CareSource 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, are also offering plans through Kynect for 2015.
Impressive coverage gains in 2014
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).
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.
Kynect officials said about 75 percent of those who signed up for coverage did not previously have insurance. 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.
History of Kentucky’s exchange
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.
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.”
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.
While the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov, and multiple state-run marketplaces had significant technical problems in 2014, Kynect ran well from the start. Experts say those in charge of implementing Kynect made good choices. They kept the design simple and worked with well-qualified and experienced vendors.
Kentucky health insurance exchange links
Kynect – Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection
Consumer site for Kentucky’s marketplace
Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange
Administrative site for Kentucky’s marketplace
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