More than one in every 10 Kentuckians now have affordable health care -- many for the first time -- thanks to the successful initial open enrollment period for kynect, Kentucky's state-based health benefit exchange.
Governor Steve Beshear today announced that 413,410 Kentuckians enrolled in health care coverage through kynect in its first open enrollment period, which ended March 31. At its peak in the final three days of enrollment, kynect processed more than 7,000 applications each day.
Another 30,000 individuals signed up for healthcare coverage during the April 4-11 kynect special enrollment period. More than 11,000 Kentuckians finalized health plan choices by the April 15 deadline, bringing the total of enrolled Kentuckians to over 413,000 -- or the approximate combined populations of Lexington, Owensboro and Bowling Green.
"Every single individual who signed up for health insurance through kynect had a driving reason to go to that website or visit a kynector -- perhaps they'd never had health insurance before and knew they needed it; they wanted insurance but couldn't get it because of pre-existing conditions; or they had been priced out of the private options available to them," said Gov. Beshear. "kynect tore down all those barriers for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. It is deeply satisfying to know that nearly 10 percent of our population finally has affordable, quality health insurance that gives them the assurance that if they get sick or hurt, they'll get the care they need and they're not in danger of bankruptcy."
Surveys of kynect enrollees revealed that about 75 percent of applicants reported that they had no health insurance prior to signing up for kynect.
kynect has been hailed as a national model since its launch on October 1, 2013, for its continuous smooth operation and easy interface for users looking for affordable health coverage. Since enrollment began last fall, hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians swarmed the website and call center in search of affordable, quality healthcare coverage.
"As the famous line from the movie A Field of Dreams goes, "If you build it, they will come.' Well, we built it and they came by the thousands," said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. "In fact, Kentuckians were so anxious for the opportunity to finally have the healthcare coverage they need and deserve that the first person was signed up as soon as the site went live. Our kynect staff added more servers to expand capacity and brought on 55 more customer service reps at the contact center to handle call volume. The response has been tremendous and truly exceeded our greatest expectations."
Midway through its first full day of operation, nearly 60,000 individuals seeking information about affordable health care had visited the kynect website. By day 10 of open enrollment, nearly 10,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in healthcare coverage. In its first full month of operation, more than 32,000 people had enrolled in coverage through kynect, an average of about 1,000 Kentuckians a day.
The final days of enrollment saw a crush of people rushing to enroll. About 21,000 signed up in the final three days. Now, more than 1 out of every 10 Kentuckians has health insurance through kynect -- or 9.6 percent of the state's population. These figures do not include previously uninsured individuals who may have purchased health insurance outside of kynect.
Some paper applications are still being processed, so the total number of kynect enrollments will likely increase as those are completed.
Fifty-two percent of all kynect enrollees are under the age of 35. Of private health plan enrollees, 33 percent are under age 35.
Approximately 80 percent of enrollees qualified for coverage under the Medicaid expansion with the remaining 20 percent purchasing a private insurance plan. Of those who purchased private insurance plans, 72 percent qualified for some level of premium assistance.
Seventy-five percent of Kentuckians who purchased a private insurance plan through kynect selected the Kentucky Health Cooperative as their insurer with the remaining 25 percent equally divided between Anthem and Humana. Currently, 68 percent of those who enrolled in a private insurance plan have paid their first month's premiums.
"Governor Beshear's decision to establish a state-based exchange and expand Medicaid coverage to those with a household income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level was truly an historic moment for the health of our citizens," said Carrie Banahan, executive director of kynect, the Kentucky health benefit exchange. "Reducing the rate of the uninsured and expanding services to those in need of substance abuse and behavioral health services is a monumental step toward improving the overall health and well-being of Kentuckians. I am truly grateful to the Governor for his visionary leadership."
The below statistics reflect activity on kynect as of Monday, April 21:
413,410 Kentuckians are enrolled in new health coverage
330,615 have qualified for Medicaid coverage
15,427 individuals who qualify for traditional Medicaid have undergone a required annual recertification since April 1, which is now handled through kynect
82,795 have purchased private insurance
52 percent of all kynect enrollees are under the age of 35
1.5 million unique visitors viewed 57.7 million kynect web pages
886,502 individuals conducted preliminary screenings
22,147 have enrolled in standalone dental plans
1,605 small businesses have started applications for employee coverage; of those 628 businesses have completed applications and are eligible to offer coverage to employees.
839,398 calls have been handled by the kynect contact center
Gov. Beshear was joined at today's announcement by healthcare advocates, kynectors, as well as citizens who are now insured as a result of kynect and the Governor's decision to expand Medicaid coverage, some of whom shared their stories.
The next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, 2014 for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2015. Individuals can apply for Medicaid at any time. Only those individuals who experience a qualifying event, such as the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, will be able to purchase private health plans outside of open enrollment.