More than 81,000 Kentuckians signed up for health insurance plans during the first open enrollment period under Healthcare.gov, state officials reported on Tuesday. That’s almost as many Kentuckians as enrolled through the defunct Kynect last year.
The Bevin administration dismantled the state-based health insurance exchange as one of its first acts, keeping a campaign promise from Gov. Matt Bevin. Kynect was created by former Gov. Steve Beshear as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
According to figures shared by the administration Tuesday, 81,155 Kentuckians signed up for insurance through the federal marketplace during this year’s open enrollment period. That’s compared with 82,681 who bought insurance through Kynect last year.
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson called the enrollment a “success.”
“We have worked very hard to make sure this change produced minimal impact on consumers so that, at the end of the day, someone purchasing insurance through the federal marketplace was simply moving from one website to another,” she said in a statement.
The state held a wide-scale educational campaign to remind consumers to re-enroll in a health insurance plan through Healthcare.gov. The transition off of the state-based exchange meant users’ plans did not automatically renew.
One of the state’s top health advocates was also pleased with the outcome. Ben Chandler, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and a former member of Congress who voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, called the enrollment numbers “great news.”
“The idea is to get more people insured, and this news is evidence that’s happening,” Chandler said in a statement. “Toward the same goal — getting more people covered — we are pleased that Gov. Bevin is working to keep Medicaid expansion in Kentucky.”
Bevin’s administration has applied for a federal waiver that would allow the state to make changes to the expanded Medicaid program, which has covered nearly half a million Kentuckians since it was enacted.
The governor’s proposed changes would require some beneficiaries to pay premiums and restrict dental and vision benefits unless a beneficiary does volunteer work, among other things.
The Bevin administration has indicated it will continue pursuing the changes even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.