State provides additional phone operators to help as deadline for health insurance sign up approaches

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comMarch 27, 2014 

  • The KyNect basics

       March 31 is the deadline for open enrollment if you are signing up through the state program KyNect for private health insurance.

       KyNect was created by the state as part of the Affordable Care Act. Under the act, every American needs to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty.

       Life events including birth, death, divorce or marriage that affects a person's ability to get health insurance will qualify people to sign up for private insurance through KyNect after the deadline.

       People who are eligible for Medicaid can continue to sign up for that program after the March 31 deadline.

       The next open enrollment period is from Nov. 15, 2014 to Jan. 15, 2015.

       For more information call 1-855-459-6328 or go to Kynect.ky.Gov.

Additional phone operators will be on hand this weekend to handle what state officials expect to be a last-minute surge before the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

About 3,000 Kentuckians a day have been enrolling in the weeks leading up to the Monday deadline, said Carrie Banahan, executive director of Kentucky's Health Benefit Exchange.

Operators will be available during extended hours at the KyNect.Gov call center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. People can also sign up online at KyNect.ky.Gov.

The deadline is midnight March 31, but Banahan said people who complete an application by the deadline will have until April 15 to choose a plan. People who miss the deadline because of a technical glitch will also be able to finish their application, she said.

Not that widespread problems are anticipated, Banahan said. "We think we are in a good position. We think we are ready."

So far about 340,000 people have signed up for health insurance, Banahan said. About 80 percent have signed up for Medicaid, the tax-funded program which serves low-income families. The rest have signed up for private insurance plans. Many of those people received subsidized rates, she said.

Seventy-five percent of all enrollees were previously uninsured.

The federal government has announced an overall goal of enrolling 6 million people in health insurance plans. Gwenda Bond, spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Kentucky has not set an independent goal but state officials are pleased with the enrollment numbers.

Bill Nold, deputy executive director of KyNect, said, "we are just more than pleased. It's about more about people getting coverage than reaching a goal."

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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