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State Officials Hopeful 2014 Can Beat Last Year's Health Insurance Enrollment Numbers For Kynect

Kentucky's health insurance exchange was off to a good start in the first nine days of open enrollment this year, Executive Director Carrie Banahan said on Friday.

"We have not had any systems problems or issues, the system is not slow. Things are going extremely well," she said.

By Friday afternoon,the Kynect website had 72,235 unique visitors and 4,107 people had newly enrolled or renewed their enrollment in a qualified health plan, according to a press release from Gov. Steve Beshear's office.

Banahan said Kynect staff set out to improve this year's enrollment process based on lessons learned from the open enrollment period.

She said their No. 1 priority was to handle the volume of calls to the Kynect contact center. Last year, 185 people took calls at the center, which resulted in wait times of up to four hours. This year 400 people are receiving calls at the center. The wait time is now around 10 minutes and callers have the option to leave their name and number for a call back. Nearly 27,000 calls have been handle by the Kynect contact center, according to the governor's office.

"Last year we had a lot of complaints, and rightfully so. We didn't have enough people taking phone calls. There were long wait times and our abandonment rate was very high, but this year everything is going very well with the call center," Banahan said.

She also said that insurance agents accounted for 44 percent of enrollments and Kynectors accounted for 15 percent of enrollments during the 2013 open enrollment period.

The Governor's office reports that since Nov. 15:

  • 45,412 individuals have conducted preliminary screenings
  • 4,180 new accounts have been created
  • 6,471 new applications have been submitted
  • 8,727 have made changes to existing applications
  • 815 individuals have enrolled in dental plans

Banahan said the addition of the Kynect retail store at Fayette Mall in Lexington offers people in central Kentucky a place where they can see an insurance agent or Kynector, which are people trained to help with the enrollment process. More than 1,800 people have visited the store and 522 have completed applications for coverage.

"It seems that it's been very important that people have a place they can go to and have human contact and talk to somebody face-to-face about health insurance," she said.

A Kynect mobile app was also launched. Banahan said almost 2,000 people have downloaded it.

"Between the store and our app, those are just mechanisms for us to reach out and enroll more people, provide them assistance with an agent or Kynector, and help individuals determine whether or not they could qualify for some type of assistance with Kynect," Banahan said.

Banahan said their goal is to enroll more people this year than last year, when more than 521,000 enrolled through Kynect.

Kentuckians can continue to sign up for Kynect during the holidays at kynect.ky.gov. The Kynect contact center will be taking calls Black Friday by calling 1-855-4Kynect.

The Kynect retail store will be closed Thanksgiving and Black Friday. During its closure it will undergo a few renovations to enlarge the space to accommodate customers.  It will reopen Saturday.