Politics & Government

Health insurance enrollment in Kentucky exceeds 116,000

Enrollment for health insurance through Kynect has exceeded 116,000, and state officials are urging people to be patient if they've signed up for private insurance but haven't received their insurance cards.

Dec. 23 was the deadline to be part of the first wave of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which takes effect Wednesday. In Kentucky, about 6,000 applications were processed in the 24 hours before the deadline, Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release Monday. The holiday season has not slowed enrollment. About 5,630 people in Kentucky have signed up since last week.

With so many people signing up in a short time, according to Beshear's release, some might not receive their insurance cards by Jan. 1. "Don't worry," the release said. "Insurers are processing a high volume of new enrollments."

Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for the governor, said the state hadn't kept track of the percentage of people who had received their cards from private companies offering coverage through Kynect.

People who've signed up via Kynect should be in the private insurance companies' systems by Jan. 1, said Gwenda Bond, a spokesman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

But coverage does not take effect unless a premium payment has been made, so Kynect administrators are encouraging those enrolled in private insurance plans to pay their first premiums by Jan. 7.

There are no premiums for Medicaid, which is designed to help the poor. Bond said people who have signed up for Medicaid through Kynect should be covered beginning Wednesday.

Kentucky had about 640,000 uninsured people when enrollment began Oct. 1. So far, 84,480 people have enrolled in government-funded Medicaid and 31,672 have enrolled in private insurance, a total of 116,152.

Enrollment continues through March 31 for coverage in 2014. In Kentucky, those who apply during the next couple weeks can have coverage activated as soon as Feb. 1.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires all Americans to sign up for health insurance or pay a penalty.

Unlike HealthCare.gov, the federal system that has been plagued by technical problems, Kynect has operated with few glitches. Kynect officials said they expanded the capacity of the website in anticipation of a year-end surge in enrollment. HealthCare.gov serves people who live in states that opted not to create their own programs.

Insurance cards

State officials suggest that if you've signed up for insurance coverage but haven't received your insurance card, you can verify coverage with your insurer by going to your Kynect account. On the dashboard, click "View Details,, then "Future Enrollments" to get your enrollment ID number.

State officials say providing ID numbers to insurance providers will help them locate new enrollees in their systems.

For more information, go to Kynect.Ky.Gov or call 1-855-459-6328. Kentuckians have until March 31 to enroll in private insurance or Medicaid coverage for 2014.

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Want to share your experience with Kynect for a possible story? Contact reporter Mary Meehan at mmeehan1@herald-leader.com (please put "kynect" in the subject line) or call (859) 231-3261.