Governor Steve Beshear and Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson will participate in enrollment events across Kentucky this week to mark the beginning of open enrollment in the state's health benefit exchange, kynect. The insurance marketplace will offer affordable health coverage for the first time to 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians.
Now, Kentuckians in all 120 counties can visit kynect.ky.gov to comparison shop for health insurance products. Kynect is expected to help uninsured residents get coverage through private insurance plans or Medicaid, as well as the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP).
Four out of five Kentuckians who use kynect are expected to qualify for financial assistance to help cover a portion of their healthcare costs.
"Today marks a sea change in the health of Kentuckians. The impact of providing affordable health care coverage to the more than 640,000 Kentuckians who are now uninsured is nearly unfathomable. Real access to health care will not only improve our collective health, but will strengthen our workforce and save Kentucky millions of dollars," said Gov. Beshear. "I've been looking forward to this day for a long time, and I'm excited for our friends, neighbors and coworkers to finally enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having affordable health insurance.
"I'm proud to be part of this historic occasion, and excited to share the information with Kentuckians who need reliable, accessible health insurance. Many of them will be able to purchase a plan for the first time -- so many have been blocked by high costs or pre-existing conditions," said Lt. Gov. Abramson. "Our state-based health benefit exchange, kynect, is easy to use and understand. I believe that Kentuckians who have been waiting for this day will be pleased to see what kynect can offer them."
Open enrollment for individuals seeking to purchase insurance through kynect begins today, Oct. 1, and runs through March 31, 2014, with coverage beginning as soon as Jan. 1, 2014. Open enrollment for small businesses also begins Oct. 1, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be able to choose to enroll employees in plans offered through kynect.
During open enrollment, Kentuckians will be able to compare and select health insurance plans and discover if they qualify for programs like Medicaid and KCHIP by using the kynect website, a toll-free contact center, a mail-in application or in person.
With kynect, individuals will learn if they qualify for payment assistance and special discounts on deductibles, copays and co-insurance. Small businesses will be able to use kynect to enroll their employees in health plans, and businesses with fewer than 25 employees may qualify for tax credits by using kynect.
The Kentucky Office of the Health Benefit Exchange (KHBE) within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is overseeing kynect operations.
"For many months, we have been working to get the word out about kynect and all that it has to offer to improve the health and well-being of Kentuckians who are without insurance," said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. "Now the big day has finally arrived, and we are anxious to get people engaged. We want them to visit kynect.ky.gov or call 1-855-4kynect to find out if they qualify for Medicaid or a subsidy to help them pay for health insurance so they can be covered as early as Jan. 1."
Through kynect, all Kentuckians will have access to available elements of the ACA, including:
No one can be denied coverage due to a pre-existing health condition or lose coverage because a family member gets sick;
Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging women more than men for the same coverage;
All health insurance plans will cover services such as preventive care, pregnancy and infant care, mental health care, and substance abuse treatment;
No lifetime limits can be imposed on health insurance coverage; and
Children will be allowed to stay on their parents' health insurance plan until they reach the age of 26.
"We are very excited about the launch of kynect and open enrollment this fall," said Carrie Banahan, executive director of the KHBE. "In addition to the peace of mind and better health that comes with quality health coverage, individuals and businesses with fewer than 25 employees may be eligible for premium assistance and tax credits by using kynect to purchase health insurance."
The KHBE was created by an executive order Gov. Beshear issued in July 2012, as part of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) requirement for a health benefits exchange to be active in each state by the end of this year. KHBE currently is funded through federal grants and will be self-sustaining by 2015.