Poll: Kentucky has second-largest drop in uninsured since health law took effect

jbrammer@herald-leader.comAugust 6, 2014 

Kentucky's health exchange call center opened last August to answer questions leading up to the start of enrollment in Kynect, Kentucky's health insurance option under the nationwide Affordable Care Act.

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The percentage of adults without health insurance in Kentucky has dropped to less than 12 percent, the second largest decline among the states since the federal Affordable Care Act took effect in January, a new poll shows.

Kentucky's uninsured rate dropped from 20.4 percent last year to 11.9 percent halfway through 2014, a decline of 8.5 percentage points, according to a Gallup Poll released this week.

Only Arkansas saw a larger decline.

"From day one, Kentuckians swarmed our exchange, Kynect, eager to gain health insurance coverage, some for the very first time in their lives," Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday. "To see this steep decline in the uninsured rate in such a short period of time reaffirms that Kynect is working and we made the right decision for the health and well-being of our citizens."

President Barack Obama and others have hailed Kynect as a national model since it was launched Oct. 1.

At the close of open enrollment on April 15, more than 413,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in health care coverage through Kynect. The majority received Medicaid, the government-funded insurance program for the poor and disabled, but more than 82,000 bought a private insurance plan. Of those, the state said, 74 percent qualified for some level of financial assistance to help with their premium costs.

Surveys of Kynect enrollees revealed that about 75 percent of applicants who signed up during the initial open enrollment period reported they did not have health insurance prior to signing up for coverage through Kynect.

As of July 31, more than 521,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in health care coverage through Kynect, Beshear said.

Those who qualify for Medicaid may go toKynect to enroll in coverage at any time. Only those who experience a qualifying event, such as the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance, may buy a private health insurance plan outside of the open-enrollment period.The next open-enrollment period begins Nov. 15, for coverage effective Jan. 1.

Gallup's poll is the first nationwide survey of the uninsured in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Results were based on telephone interviews with a random sample of more than 178,000 adult Americans.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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