Governor Steve Beshear today announced the launch of public education and awareness efforts for the state's health benefit exchange, called kynect: Kentucky's Healthcare Connection.
Kentuckians can visit the website at kynect.ky.gov to learn more about the program, which is expected to help more than 600,000 uninsured Kentuckians get coverage through private insurance plans or Medicaid and the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP).
"When I issued an executive order last year creating a state-based health benefit exchange, I did so to ensure that our health benefit exchange would be designed to best meet the unique needs of Kentuckians," said Gov. Beshear. "Today I am pleased to introduce kynect: Kentucky's Healthcare Connection to the state. Individuals, families and small businesses will be able to use kynect for one-stop shopping to find health coverage and determine if they are eligible for payment assistance or tax credits to help cover costs."
Open enrollment for individuals seeking to purchase insurance through kynect begins 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, but businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be able to choose to enroll employees in plans offered through kynect at any point after that date.
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 find out 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) will oversee the operations of kynect. 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 is required to be self-sustaining by 2015.
"Starting today, we are undertaking a major education and awareness campaign to ensure that all uninsured Kentuckians understand how kynect can help them and their families find affordable health coverage," said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. "In the coming months, kynect staff will be attending community events, adding more information to our website, and opening up a toll-free hotline. We want everyone to know a healthier future for Kentucky is on the way and where to go to apply when open enrollment arrives."
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; 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."