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Get ready for health insurance open enrollment

Tips from member-governed Kentucky Health Cooperative

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2013) – Recent changes in healthcare will make it possible for more Kentuckians to have access to affordable health insurance in three months.

healthcare OutlookThe changes, ushered in by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, represent a new era in health care, according to Janie Miller, chief executive officer of Kentucky Health Cooperative Inc., the new, nonprofit health insurance provider based in Louisville.

“The time that so many people have heard about – the opening of health insurance marketplaces, or ‘exchanges,’ is here,” Miller said, noting that the initial open enrollment starts Oct. 1. That’s when Kentuckians will be able to visit Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, www.kynect.ky.gov, to compare health insurance plans by premium, provider network, drug lists, insurance carrier and other considerations. The exchange also will help consumers meet any requirements to carry health insurance by Jan. 1.

To help Kentuckians prepare for open enrollment, Kentucky Health Cooperative recommends six steps to help choose health insurance coverage.

  1. Learn more about how health reform affects you and your family. For example, health plans that “qualify” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be offered on the exchange will be required to include pediatric vision benefits for children up to age 18. “Certain health and wellness benefits, including immunizations, will be offered with no copayment, which is welcome news for the health and well-being of people of all ages,” Miller said. “And, Kentuckians eligible for Medicare coverage will benefit from the continued closing of the prescription drug ‘donut hole.’ ”
  2. Ask your employer about coverage. If you are employed, find out if your employer will offer group health insurance in 2014. Recent changes in health care make it more affordable for many small employers (employing 2-50 full-time equivalent employees) to cover their employees. If you are a small business owner, check out possible tax benefits by visiting the IRS website at www.irs.gov/sbhtc.
  3. Familiarize yourself with kynect (pronounced “connect”). If you do not receive health care coverage through your employer, you have the option of purchasing an individual/family plan. Visit www.kynect.ky.gov or call 1-855-4kynect (459-6328) to compare options, and as long as enrollment takes place on or before Dec. 16, 2013, enrollees will have coverage come Jan. 1, 2014.
  4. Find out if you quality for tax credits, special discounts or payment assistance. Many individuals and families will be eligible for income subsidies to help cover the cost of health insurance. Again, kynect is the place to visit or call.
  5. Do your homework. In Kentucky, individuals, families and small businesses will have access to a variety of health insurance plans offered by at least two carriers. “While many consumers may be tempted to look at cost as a major factor in making their decision, there are other important considerations, such as whether you’re happy with your current health plan,” Miller said.

To find out more about Kentucky Health Cooperative, visit mykyhc.org.