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Study Examines Impact of Affordable Care Act on Kentucky

Health
Phalinn Ooi/Creative Commons
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A new study examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Kentucky offers insights into how residents are using and benefiting from the federal health law.

It was compiled by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, a health policy research institute at the University of Minnesota, and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. (The foundation is part of the partnership for WFPL’s Next Louisville: Community Health project.)

The study released Tuesday analyzed the first quarter of 2015. The center will be updating the information quarterly and compiling studies about coverage, access to services, quality of care, cost and outcomes in Kentucky.

Half of the people who enrolled in Kentucky's state-run health care exchange, Kynect, chose the Silver Plan, according to the study.

Kentuckians can choose from among four plans through Kynect, ranging in benefits and prices.

The Silver Plan is the next-to-least costly. The lowest monthly premium for an individual under this plan in 2015 is $137 and the highest is $268. For a family of four, the lowest monthly premium is $462 and the highest is $907.

Silver Plans seem to be viable options for individuals and families, said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

"People gravitate towards maybe not the low end but the middle of the pack. So, it's not the Cadillac plan, it's not the base plan," she said.

Blewett said the Silver Plan is "potentially affordable" for Kentuckians who qualify for larger subsidies for coverage from the federal government.

During the first open enrollment period in 2014, 72 percent of enrollees received a subsidy. In the most recent enrollment period this year, 69 percent received subsidies.

Re-enrollment numbers for the second enrollment period show that 74 percent of individuals renewed coverage from the previous year.

The study also shows Kentucky had the largest decrease in its uninsured rate compared with neighboring states.

Kentucky's uninsured rate is now 9 percent, according to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report. That report said only Arkansas had a bigger decrease in the rate of its uninsured since 2013, just before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

"It's one of the more successful health insurance exchanges in terms of not having as many technical glitches," Blewett said of Kynect. "They've gotten a lot of people covered, and now we're using whatever data we can find to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act on both access to care and the outcomes of care."