(LOUISVILLE, Ky – November 15, 2016) If Kentuckians looking for 2017 health plans on the federal marketplace are anything like those who obtained their 2016 plans through Kentucky’s state exchange, about 95 percent will enroll in Medicaid, according to a report released today by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Open enrollment for 2017 health coverage began November 1, and most Kentuckians without employer-provided insurance must enroll – or re-enroll – using a Healthcare.gov, rather than the now-dismantled state-based health insurance exchange kynect. Of the nearly 26 percent of Kentuckians age 18-64 who obtained health coverage for 2016 through kynect, just 5 percent enrolled in private individual-market coverage, the report found. These enrollees also took advantage of kynectors and other assistance provided by the state to help them through the process.
“Kentuckians who went through kynect relied on various programs offered by the state to help them sign up for health insurance in 2016, and this report highlights who might need similar assistance during the current open enrollment period,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
“As the Commonwealth transitions away from kynect and into a supported state-based marketplace using the federal portal Healthcare.gov, this report tells us that more than half may be reaching out for one-on-one assistance, either in person or by phone, during the process,” Chandler said. “The need is likely to be greatest in Eastern Kentucky, where a larger proportion of residents accessed their 2016 coverage through kynect. Moreover, if last year’s numbers hold true, those looking to buy insurance or sign up for Medicaid via the federal portal will have poorer health than their counterparts who already have insurance.”
The findings are in the latest report from an ongoing study of the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Kentucky, commissioned by the Foundation in 2015. According to the report, 25.8 percent of Kentuckians ages 18-64 obtained their 2016 health coverage through kynect, which closed on Oct. 31 (except for those still needing 2016 coverage). Significantly more individuals living in Eastern Kentucky used kynect (33.9 percent of the region’s residents) to obtain coverage through kynect, and significantly less people in Northern Kentucky (16.0 percent) obtained coverage through kynect. Residents in Western Kentucky (27.8 percent), Greater Lexington (21.9 percent) and Greater Louisville (22.5 percent) were similar to the state overall.
Of those who shopped through kynect, 52.3 percent worked with a “kynector” or another person who helped walk them through the process, 41.7 percent contacted the kynect call center, and 38 percent visited the kynect website. Nearly 45 percent of those who enrolled through kynect said they were in fair or poor health, compared to 28.2 percent of Kentucky’s non-elderly adults overall reporting less-than-good health.
Tips for picking a health plan on Healthcare.gov, including the types of plans available and quality ratings, can be found here. A copy of the report, the 6th quarterly snapshot of the Study of the Impact of the ACA Implementation in Kentucky, is available here.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $26 million in health policy research and pilot project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and on Facebook, or visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
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Bonnie J. Hackbarth