Most Kentuckians who bought health insurance on Kynect will pay higher premiums next year

About 85,000 Kentuckians used site to buy insurance

By Kentucky Health News

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 4, 2014) — Most premiums for private health insurance purchased through Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, Kynect, will increase in 2015.

kynectMost of the people who have used Kynect have been added to Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Only about 85,000 Kentuckians used the site to purchase private plans.

Health insurance companies have filed their rate requests for 2015, and the state Department of Insurance has approved most of them, reports Adam Beam of The Associated Press.

Officials have approved a 15 percent average rate increase for the Kentucky Health Cooperative, which sold 75 percent of private plans on the exchange.

Humana and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield each sold 12.5 percent of the private plans on Kynect. Humana’s premiums will rose an average of 12.8 percent, but rates for Anthem will go down an average of 4.3 percent, Beam reports. Rates apparently have not been set for two new companies that will join the exchange, CareSource and WellCare.

“Rates off the exchange are increasing, too, in both the small group and individual markets,” writes Beam. For example, Time Insurance Co.’s individual rates will go up an average of 15 percent, and the small group rates for Time, Bluegrass Family Health and John Alden Life Insurance Co. will rise an average of 5 percent.

Department of Insurance spokeswoman Ronda Sloan told Beam that rates for large group plans were not available yet. The rate certification process will be finalized before open enrollment, which begins on Nov. 15 and runs through February 15, 2015.

The averages can be misleading because that Kynect offers approximately 70,000 different rates, which vary depending on numerous variables, such as the type of plan, where people live, how old they are and whether they smoke.

Kynect was one of the few online health insurance portals that actually functioned when Obamacare launched a year ago. An estimated 521,000 Kentuckians have obtained insurance through the website, reducing the state’s uninsured rate from 20 percent to 12 percent, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said in a recent video update.

Beshear said this sharp reduction in the uninsured proves that Kynect is working. Republicans say higher insurance premiums and difficulty finding doctors prove it isn’t.

Kentucky Health News is a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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