A call center designed to help 640,000 Kentuckians sign up for health insurance received 422 calls in its first week of operation.
The call center was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, the health-care reform measure that requires nearly every American to have health insurance by March. In Kentucky, people can't sign up for coverage until Oct. 1 but the call center opened last week to answer questions and explain the process of enrolling in insurance.
According to the state Cabinet for Health and Family services, 404 calls were in English and 16 were in Spanish. When fully staffed with 100 operators, the Lexington-based call center can handle 5,000 calls a day.
Here are the most frequently asked questions with answers according to the state.
Question: Can I enroll today? Or, I've just been dropped from my insurance, how can I enroll?
Answer: Open enrollment begins Oct. 1, 2013, and runs through March 31, 2014. More information will be available as the October enrollment period gets closer. No insurance coverage becomes active until Jan. 1, 2014.
Q: What are the metal level plans?
A: All health plans will be classified into four metal categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. As the metal level increases in value, so does the percentage of medical expenses that a plan will cover.
For example, the platinum level plan will have the highest premium cost but it will also cover the highest portion (about 90 percent) of the medical costs at the time of care. A bronze plan will cover about 60 percent of medical costs and the Silver and Gold plans fall between Platinum and Bronze.
Q: I want health insurance but I can't afford it. What can I do?
A: By using the website Kynect.Ky.Gov, you may find that you are eligible to receive payment assistance or special discounts to help cover the costs of coverage. The website allows you to compare and select insurance plans, and find out if you qualify for subsidized programs like Medicaid or KCHIP, the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program.
Q: How much will my premium be?
A: It's unclear now exactly how much premiums will be. There is a calculator at HealthBenefitExchange.ky.gov that can provide an estimate.
Q: Will my Medicare benefits be cut under the new law?
A: No. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not eliminate or reduce benefits provided under Medicare. In addition, those under 65 and on Medicare will not lose any benefits. Coverage will remain the same with some in this group receiving additional benefits under Part B.
The call center to answer questions about the Kentucky insurance program created under Affordable Care Act, KyNect.Ky.Gov is up and running.
Operators can answer questions about how to obtain insurance and insurance options. The number is 1-855-459-6328. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Saturday hours will begin Oct. 1 with open enrollment.