Local/Regional News
5:54 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Open Enrollment For Health Coverage Begins Tuesday

FRANKFORT, Ky -- After more than a year of preparation, Ky. is set to begin signing up uninsured residents for health coverage Tuesday.

Enrollees are encouraged to sign up via Kynect. an online marketplace that offers a variety of policies with premiums as low as $47 a month.

Gov. Steve Beshear has pressed to implement the federal health care reforms for his state, which, he points out, ranks among the worst in the nation in nearly every measure of health.

"Frankly, we can't implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough," he said.

On Tuesday, Kentucky begins the first phase of that implementation. People can then begin enrolling in health insurance plans through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, the online guide to insurance policies.

"This has been a monumental achievement," said Carrie Banahan, executive director of the exchange. "We realize there could be some bumps along the road and some glitches, but we're ready to take applications."

The open enrollment period runs through the end of the year, and the policies go into effect Jan. 1.

Premiums range from less than $50 a month for a healthy single person to more than $700 a month for a family of four. Annual deductibles range from $1,000 to $12,600.

Beshear said four out of five Kentuckians will be eligible based on income cutoffs for federal subsidies ranging from less than $100 to more than $500 a month to help pay the premiums.

Banahan said individuals with annual income up to $45,960 can get the subsidies, as can families of four making up to $94,200 a year.

Beshear said that in all, some 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians will be able to obtain new coverage. Nearly half of those will be added to the state's Medicaid program. The remainder will be able to get insurance through the exchange.

Beshear created the exchange by executive order last year. Since then, Kentucky has received more than $250 million from the federal government to set it up.

State Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said he has been thrilled to learn details of health insurance plans available to Kentuckians.

"All the information I was getting was Armageddon was coming," Neal said after a briefing for lawmakers last week in Frankfort. "This is extraordinary to me."

Under Kentucky's offerings, a 22-year-old single college student making $20,000 a year could purchase insurance for $51 per month while a healthy family of four with income of $70,000 a year could get coverage for $403 a month.

Kentucky kicked off an $11 million advertising campaign in June. Ads have been running on TV, on radio, on the Web and in newspapers. The campaign expands Tuesday and continues through the first three months of next year.

Beshear said Kentucky will see a major shift from the days when many people skipped checkups, went without medication or relied on emergency rooms to treat ailments.

Despite the often heated political rhetoric, Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said reaction to the state's implementation of the overhaul has largely been positive at informational meetings she's attended around the state.

"People are hungry for information," Bond said.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- After more than a year of preparation, Kentucky is set to begin signing up uninsured residents for health coverage Tuesday through an online marketplace that offers a variety of policies with premiums as low as $47 a month.

Gov. Steve Beshear has pressed to implement the federal health care reforms for his state, which, he points out, ranks among the worst in the nation in nearly every measure of health.

"Frankly, we can't implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough," he said.

On Tuesday, Kentucky begins the first phase of that implementation. People can then begin enrolling in health insurance plans through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, the online guide to insurance policies.

"This has been a monumental achievement," said Carrie Banahan, executive director of the exchange. "We realize there could be some bumps along the road and some glitches, but we're ready to take applications."

The open enrollment period runs through the end of the year, and the policies go into effect Jan. 1.

Premiums range from less than $50 a month for a healthy single person to more than $700 a month for a family of four. Annual deductibles range from $1,000 to $12,600.

Beshear said four out of five Kentuckians will be eligible based on income cutoffs for federal subsidies ranging from less than $100 to more than $500 a month to help pay the premiums.

Banahan said individuals with annual income up to $45,960 can get the subsidies, as can families of four making up to $94,200 a year.

Beshear said that in all, some 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians will be able to obtain new coverage. Nearly half of those will be added to the state's Medicaid program. The remainder will be able to get insurance through the exchange.

Beshear created the exchange by executive order last year. Since then, Kentucky has received more than $250 million from the federal government to set it up.

State Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said he has been thrilled to learn details of health insurance plans available to Kentuckians.

"All the information I was getting was Armageddon was coming," Neal said after a briefing for lawmakers last week in Frankfort. "This is extraordinary to me."

Under Kentucky's offerings, a 22-year-old single college student making $20,000 a year could purchase insurance for $51 per month while a healthy family of four with income of $70,000 a year could get coverage for $403 a month.

Kentucky kicked off an $11 million advertising campaign in June. Ads have been running on TV, on radio, on the Web and in newspapers. The campaign expands Tuesday and continues through the first three months of next year.

Beshear said Kentucky will see a major shift from the days when many people skipped checkups, went without medication or relied on emergency rooms to treat ailments.

Despite the often heated political rhetoric, Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said reaction to the state's implementation of the overhaul has largely been positive at informational meetings she's attended around the state.

"People are hungry for information," Bond said.