If you thought you missed your chance to sign up in Kentucky for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act, think again.
Following a surge in last-minute applications, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that the state will extend its deadline. People will be able to file for health insurance from April 4 to April 11.
The official deadline had been midnight March 31. Gwenda Bond, spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said 21,000 people signed up over the weekend, including 12,000 people who signed up Monday. The deadline affected only those signing up for private health insurance, because those eligible for Medicaid can apply at any time.
Because of the high demand, Bond said, state officials decided to add additional days for enrollment or a "special enrollment period." The days between the March 31 deadline and the special enrollment period will allow for some tweaks to the technical system to allow for the extension, she said. She said it also allows for "kynectors," who have been trained to help people with enrollment in communities across the state, to set up appointments to process applications in the most efficient way.
The details on how this special enrollment period will work, including call center hours, will be announced Thursday, according to a news release from the governor's office.
As of April 1, 370,829 Kentuckians had enrolled in health insurance; 293,802 of those signed up for Medicaid, and 77,027 signed up for private insurance.
When open enrollment began Oct. 1, state officials estimated there were 640,000 uninsured in Kentucky.
Kentucky is among a handful of states opting to create and manage their own "exchanges," or health care marketplaces. Thirty-six states are enrolling through a federal website, HealthCare.gov. The federal effort, which has been plagued by technical problems and bad press, had earlier announced that there would be an indeterminate "special enrollment period" for people who had technical problems, who could not log into the site or who had started an application but could not complete it. There had been reports of the federal site being overwhelmed with users on Monday.
Bond said there were no such glitches in Kentucky.