Rounding the First Bend to Get Kentuckians Covered

By Guest Blogger

This post was written by Regan Hunt, Executive Director of Kentucky Voices for Health, kvhexec@kyvoicesforhealth.org and Katie Carter, Senior Policy Analyst for Kentucky Youth Advocates, kcarter@kyyouth.org

The health insurance marketplaces launched October 1, and Kentucky’s state-based marketplace (SBM), Kynect, has been highlighted as a unique success story.

National experts have placed Kentucky at the top of the list and credit Kynect’s success to a fairly simple web site design involving input from the right people across different agencies and departments, as well as extensive consumer testing leading up to open enrollment.

As of November 26, 60,282 people were enrolled in coverage through Kynect and 417,169 Kentuckians had conducted pre-screenings to determine whether they qualify for free or low cost coverage with financial assistance through Kynect or programs like Medicaid.

We are rather amazed but thrilled by the response. Kentuckians are hungry for affordable health insurance.  The numbers—updated regularly—tell the story:

  1. Just under 10 percent (or 60,282) of the eligible uninsured have already enrolled in new health coverage, including Medicaid and private insurance;
  2. 14.3 million hits to the https://kynect.ky.gov;
  3. 23,549 have been found eligible for a subsidy to purchase a qualified health plan, but some have not yet chosen a plan;
  4. 156,628 calls have been managed by the call center;
  5. 1,063 small businesses have started applications for health insurance for employees.

This is great news for Kentucky. The website is working and individuals and families are enrolling in much needed health coverage. So what is our recipe for success?

Coordinated efforts between state government officials and agencies, which includes collaboration between Governor Beshear, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Department of Insurance, and the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.

Outreach and education. The involvement of Kentucky’s navigator organizations (called Kynectors), stakeholders, advocacy groups, consumers, and health providers have been critical to our success. It’s about public education. We are now seeing that most people know something about Kynect, and now we are looking at reaching out to certain populations like the ‘young invincibles’. We recently borrowed an idea from Massachusetts’ campaign—beverage napkins in restaurants and bars.

Kentucky is a state known for the Kentucky Derby—the most exciting two minutes in sports—and Kentucky is leading the pack. We are looking at open enrollment as the most exciting six months in Kentucky’s health policy history: a race toward getting 622,054 Kentuckians covered. The first bend of the race is getting people enrolled by December 23 so their coverage can start January 1, 2014. The home stretch will be over the next few months as we work toward March 31, 2014, the close of open enrollment.

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