I am a member of the League of Women Voters–Kentucky. I was asked recently to write an article about kynect, our state’s ACA exchange, for the organization’s newsletter, The Voter. It seems worth sharing:
September 8, 2013
Across our state, public officials, health and wellness advocates, and caregivers in community clinics are working to educate the public about the benefits of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), and to publicize news of the recent expansion of Medicaid. In Frankfort, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is preparing for the October 1 launch of kynect, the Kentucky Healthcare Connection, an “exchange” or marketplace where individuals who are not covered by an employer may go to purchase an insurance plan from an approved list of private vendors. The open enrollment period runs from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, with policies going into effect in 2014. Plans (platinum, gold, silver, bronze) will vary as to premium cost, level of deductible, and co-pay, but all plans must, by law, provide a set of essential benefits. To see a list of ACA reforms having an impact in Kentucky, go to federal government sites such as http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/bystate/ky.html
The Kaiser Foundation also has up-to-date information: http://kff.org/health-reform/
Medicaid applications will also be processed by kynect. The Medicaid program, operated in Kentucky by five private managed care companies, serves a lower-income population, children, pregnant women, and the disabled. Eligibility for Medicaid coverage will depend on family size and income level. Certain applicants will pay no premium; others will be eligible for tax credits, payment assistance or special discounts. A CHFS white paper gives a detailed rationale for the expansion of Medicare:
The report concludes: “Medicaid expansion, coupled with the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, means that every individual currently uninsured, an estimated 640,000 Kentuckians, will have the opportunity to gain health insurance.”
In 2014, the controversial individual mandate will come into effect: most Kentuckians, including refugees and lawfully present immigrants, will be required to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. The start of a special program for businesses with 50 or fewer employees has been delayed until 2015.
At the State LWV Conference on April 13, 2013, delegates approved a recommendation of the Louisville League that state members monitor the implementation of the ACA in Kentucky, insisting on “transparency, oversight of contracts, and accountability in order to maintain the focus on equitable distribution of health services.” League members are encouraged to assess the quality and affordability of plans sold through the kynect exchange and to evaluate follow-through on the handling of claims.
Posted November 17, 2013