Health insurance in Kansas
- Kansas utilizes the federally run health insurance marketplace , with enrollment through HealthCare.gov.
- Open enrollment period for 2021 health insurance plans ended on December 15, 2020.
- Short-term health insurance plans can be sold in Kansas with initial plan terms up to 12 months.
- Five insurers are offering 2020 coverage through the Kansas health insurance marketplace, all five will continue to offer plans for 2021.
- Almost 86,000 Kansas residents enrolled in 2020 medical insurance coverage through the state exchange.
- Kansas has not implemented Medicaid coverage expansion, but it’s a top priority for Gov. Kelly and Democrats in the legislature.
- Kansas has lower than average enrollment in Medicare Advantage, higher than average enrollment in stand-alone Part D plans.
- The high-risk pool in Kansas closed after the ACA allowed people to purchase individual market coverage regardless of their medical history.
This page is dedicated to helping consumers quickly find health insurance resources in the state of Kansas. Here, you’ll find information about the many types of health insurance coverage available. You can find the basics of the Kansas health insurance marketplace and upcoming open enrollment period; a brief overview of Medicaid expansion in Kansas; a quick look at short-term health insurance availability in the state; statistics about state-specific Medicare rules; as well as a collection of health insurance resources for Kansas residents.
Kansas health insurance marketplace
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, Kansas has maintained a stance of reluctance. The Sunflower State is among a dwindling minority of states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and defaults to the federally run health insurance marketplace – albeit with a marketplace plan management model for the exchange.
85,837 people enrolled in private health insurance plans through the Kansas marketplace during the open enrollment period for 2020 coverage. Enrollment peaked in the Kansas marketplace in 2016, when more than 101,000 people purchased coverage.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
- Sunflower State Health Plan/Ambetter from Sunflower Health (Centene)
All five will continue to offer health insurance plans in the Kansas marketplace for 2021, with overall average proposed rate changes that vary from about an 8 percent decrease to a 10 percent increase.
Read our full overview of the Kansas health insurance marketplace, including a summary of how costs and enrollment have changed over time.
Kansas open enrollment period and dates
Open enrollment in Kansas for 2021 health plans ran from November 1 through December 15, 2020. This applies to individual market plan that people buy for themselves (as opposed to coverage provided to people who are employed by businesses that offer group health insurance).
During open enrollment, Kansas residents can enroll in individual market coverage for the first time or change to a different plan for 2021. Outside of that window, residents can only enroll or make changes to their coverage if they experience a qualifying event.
Medicaid expansion in Kansas
Medicaid is called KanCare in Kansas. Kansas is among the shrinking number of states that have not yet expanded Medicaid coverage under the ACA.
The state’s decision against Medicaid expansion leaves 40,000 Kansans in the coverage gap, meaning they neither qualify for Kansas Medicaid nor for tax subsidies to help purchase private coverage through the health insurance marketplace.
Former governors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer, both Republicans, were strongly opposed to Medicaid coverage expansion. But Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, took office in 2019 and identified Medicaid expansion as one of her top priorities. Medicaid expansion legislation passed the House in Kansas in 2019, but died in the Senate. Bipartisan legislation to expand Medicaid was again considered 2020, but measure was ultimately unsuccessful. So Kansas continues to have a coverage gap and miss out on substantial federal funding that would be forthcoming if the state were to expand Medicaid.
Because Kansas has not expanded Medicaid, coverage is not available for low-income adults without children unless they’re elderly or disabled. Coverage is only available for the traditionally eligible groups with low incomes, including children, pregnant women, families with minor children, the elderly, and disabled residents. And adults with dependent children are eligible only if their household income is under 33 percent of the federal poverty level.
Read more about Medicaid coverage in Kansas.
Short-term health insurance in Kansas
Kansas law limits short-term health insurance plans to initial terms of not more than twelve months (ie, the same as the federal rules that took effect in late 2018). But the state only allows short-term insurance plans to renew one time, so the maximum duration is two years. So the three-year maximum duration allowed under federal rules does not apply in Kansas.
Read more about short-term health insurance in Kansas.
How has Obamacare helped Kansas?
According to US Census data, the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped from 12.3 percent in 2013 to 8.7 percent in 2016, and remained at that level in 2017. It grew slightly in 2018, to 8.8 percent, although it was still slightly lower than the national average, despite the fact that Kansas has not expanded Medicaid coverage (nationwide, there has been an uptick in the uninsured rate under the Trump administration).
As of early 2020, there were 71,167 people in Kansas who were receiving premium subsidies in the health insurance marketplace to offset the cost of their individual health insurance premiums. More than 33,000 enrollees were also receiving cost-sharing subsidies to reduce their out-of-pocket costs, making it easier to afford the healthcare they need.
Including people who pay full price for their coverage, there were nearly 80,000 people with effectuated individual market coverage through the Kansas exchange in 2020. All of these people have coverage for the ACA’s essential health benefits, with no lifetime or annual caps on their benefits.
Kansas and the Affordable Care Act
Kansas is a Republican-controlled state, with voters favoring Donald Trump by a wide margin in the 2016 election. Republicans still hold a strong majority in the state’s legislature, but Democrat Laura Kelly became governor in 2019.
Kansas currently has just one Democrat in its Congressional delegation — Rep. Sharice Davids, who took office in 2019 and supports the ACA. The rest of the Congressional delegation from Kansas is opposed to the ACA.
Kansas joined the 2010 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ACA (the Supreme Court ultimately upheld most of the law, but ruled that states could opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing the rest of their federal funding for Medicaid; Kansas has not expanded Medicaid). The state is also challenging the ACA in California v. Texas (Texas v. Azar), as one of the 18 plaintiff states seeking to overturn the entire ACA now that the individual mandate penalty has been eliminated.
Former Gov. Sam Brownback was a vocal critic of the ACA. Brownback considered a state-run marketplace early on, but soon turned against the idea. In August 2011, Brownback returned a federal loan earmarked for developing a state-run marketplace. Then-Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, also a Republican, argued hard for Kansas to operate its own exchange, but was unable to convince Brownback or state legislators.
The Kansas high-risk insurance pool
Prior to 2014, when the ACA reformed the individual health insurance market, private coverage was medically underwritten in nearly every state, including Kansas. People with pre-existing conditions (who were not employed by a business that offered group health insurance benefits) often found themselves unable to purchase coverage, or only able to get policies that excluded their pre-existing conditions.
The Kansas Health Insurance Association (KHIA) was created in 1993 to provide a coverage option for applicants who were not eligible for plans in the private market because of medical history.
Because of the ACA’s guaranteed-issue provision, medical history is no longer a factor in eligibility for private plans in the individual market. This means that high-risk pools are no longer needed the way they were prior to 2014. KHIA ceased operations on January 1, 2014, and was successfully terminated in mid-2015 following significant communication with members about transitioning to the private market.
Medicare coverage and enrollment in Kansas
As of July 2020, there were 544,530 Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas. Most Medicare enrollees in Kansas opt for Original Medicare, with only about 21 percent enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans instead. There are 62 insurers that provide Medigap plans in Kansas, and the state requires Medigap insurers to make coverage available to disabled Medicare beneficiaries under 65.
You can read more about Medicare in Kansas in our state Medicare guide.
Kansas Health insurance resources
- Kansas Insurance Department, overview of health insurance
- Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) – Assistance for Medicare beneficiaries
- Medicare Rights Center – a nationwide service that can provide assistance and information to people with Medicare
- Kansas Department of Health, KanCare & Medicaid – a wide range of resources related to health coverage for low-income Kansans
- KanCare managed care plans (the insurer listed on your KanCare ID card is your managed care provider)
Health reform legislation in Kansas
In April 2016, Kansas enacted HB2454, legislation that allows health insurers to offer EPO plans with narrow networks and “gatekeeper” requirements similar to HMOs.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to see a summary of what’s happening legislatively in Kansas with healthcare reform at the state level.
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.