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Kentucky returns to state-based health insurance exchange ahead of open enrollment

Alexandra Kanik

On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear said approximately 280,000 adults and 45,000 children do not have health care coverage in Kentucky.

“But there is an option now out there for everyone,” he said. “Our goal is to get everybody signed up, and certainly, we need to have every single child signed up.”

Beshear made the comment during a news conference announcing the relaunch of the state-based health insurance exchange kynect, where he was joined by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. Beshear said the switch from the federal government’s health insurance marketplace will save Kentuckians an estimated $15 million dollars. 

“Consumers who enroll in health plans through the federal site pay a surcharge on premiums, which is not going to continue with our state-based marketplace,” he said. “So these savings are going to be passed on to Kentuckians and to buy health coverage through the state based marketplace.”

Former Gov. Matt Bevin ended Kentucky’s state-based exchange, which began under former Gov. Steve Beshear.

Beginning October 15, current Medicaid recipients may make changes to health plans through Dec. 1. Those who qualify for Medicaid can sign up anytime. Kentucky has about 1.5 million Medicaid recipients, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. 

Sec. Becerra said health insurance exchanges have allowed millions of people to gain coverage. 

“There are some 31 million Americans who have now joined these health care based marketplaces to be able to afford insurance,” he said. “Most of these folks did not have quality insurance before or most were in and out of insurance because they sometimes could afford it, sometimes couldn't. 

When asked if he was concerned about confusion between the state’s health insurance exchange and the federal government’s, Beshear said there’s a better chance that hard to reach populations will sign up because the state’s system is local. 

“I think that's a lot easier on something called ‘kynect,’ where they can talk to someone within their state, than having to go on a federal exchange.

The state also has “kynectors” who can help people apply for health insurance. Mia Anderson is a kynector based in Louisville.

“I see everyday hard-working people who pay their bills, do everything they can to make it every day, but do that by skipping health care coverage,” Anderson said. “But having opportunities like ‘kynect’ [gives] them the opportunity to have affordable health care coverage.”

The kynect website is live. Open enrollment for purchasing health insurance plans begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 15.

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