Home » Improvements will make kynect easier to use, Gov. Beshear says

Improvements will make kynect easier to use, Gov. Beshear says

Open enrollment begins on Saturday

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 10, 2014) — Gov. Steve Beshear announced a series of improvements to kynect—the state’s health benefit exchange—designed to improve consumer experience and encourage more Kentuckians to enroll in affordable health insurance. Open enrollment begins Nov. 15 and closes Feb. 15, 2015.

Last year more than 521,000 Kentuckians enrolled in health care coverage through kynect. Three out of every four enrollees reported that they had no health insurance prior to signing up through kynect. A Gallup poll this summer reported that Kentucky had the second-highest reduction of uninsured people in the country, falling from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent midway through 2014.

kynectSince the first open enrollment period closed last spring, kynect administrators have developed a new mobile app as well as enhancements to the kynect website to make shopping easier.

The kynect mobile app is a free download available for Apple and Android smartphones. Users can enter basic information to see what kind of coverage they may qualify for, and how much of a discount or subsidy they may be able to use. The app also shows nearby insurance agents and kynectors, as well as enrollment events in the user’s county.

Future versions of the app, expected to be available later this fall, will add more functions, including the ability for a user to access their kynect account, see the details of their enrolled plan, submit photos of documents needed for verification and to receive alerts and messages.

The kynect website has also seen improvements.  Now, entering your basic information about county of residence, household income, household size and smoking status will not only show which plans are available, but will also display the final amount members will pay for those plans – with discounts and subsidies already calculated.

To support the high volume of website visitors and applications, kynect administrators also added new servers to expand capacity.

Insurance agents signed up 44 percent of all Kentuckians who bought private health insurance. This year, the number of certified insurance agents authorized to sell kynect health plans has doubled, from 1,400 to 2,800.

To shorten call times and handle high call volumes, the number of kynect call center representatives has increased from 185 to 400; call center hours have been expanded to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Also, kynect will have a physical store in Lexington’s Fayette Mall that opens on Thursday. The store will have insurance agents, kynectors and kiosks available during the mall’s regular hours to help people determine eligibility, choose insurance plans and enroll in health care coverage.

Two new insurance companies have joined the kynect marketplace, bringing the total number of insurers in the state to seven.

Health care costs for the individual market typically increased about 8 percent or more per year before the Affordable Care Act – and there were no subsidies or discounts to help defray costs then as there are now.

Private health insurance policies sold through kynect don’t have a single so-called “sticker price.”  There is no “average” price, or an average increase or decrease for the plan costs, because many factors go into determining the cost to an individual. Variables like the type of plan, where people live, if they smoke, how old they are, household income and family size all influence costs to individuals. Policies are also available in four different “metal” levels — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — with varying levels of deductibles and monthly premiums.

With all those variables in the mix, kynect offers some 70,000 different rates.

Household income alone determines the amount of any discount. An individual earning up to $46,680 a year will qualify for a discount; a family of four earning up to $95,400 will also receive a discount.

To help illustrate what’s available, Beshear provided several scenarios of individuals seeking insurance through kynect and their possible costs:

  • A 22-year-old college student earning $18,000 per year could get a monthly subsidy of $104, lowering his monthly cost to $20.
  • A 35-year-old single parent of two children earning $35,000 per year could get a monthly subsidy of $240, lowering her monthly cost to $93.
  • A family of four earning $65,000 per year could get a monthly subsidy of $249, lowering their monthly cost to $336.
  • A retired couple earning $50,000 per year could get a monthly subsidy of $526, lowering their monthly cost to $160.

For Kentuckians who enrolled in Medicaid, there’s no need to go back to kynect unless household income has changed or they want to use a different Medicaid managed care organization.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has tracked health outcomes in the Medicaid population. Since January, adult preventive services, such as well visits and flu shots, have increased nearly 37 percent over 2013 rates. Breast cancer screenings are up 20 percent over last year’s numbers, and colorectal cancer screenings have increased nearly 17 percent. Adult dental visits are up by more than a third.

More Kentuckians are now working in health-related jobs. From July 2013 to July 2014, an additional 3,000 jobs have been created in core health care services in Kentucky, as well as almost 8,000 additional jobs in administrative and support services.