Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear visits Lexington, Louisville to promote kynect’s 2016 Open Enrollment Nov. 1-Jan. 31

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 27, 2015  
Contact Information:  Terry Sebastian
Jennifer Brislin
502-564-2611
 


Kick-off of kynect’s third year latest in Governor’s ongoing efforts to improve the health of Kentuckians

LEXINGTON/LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As the countdown to open enrollment proceeds, Gov. Steve Beshear today made stops in Lexington and Louisville to encourage Kentuckians in need of health care coverage to check out the variety of options available on kynect.

With the number of insurers at a nearly two decade high, consumers may find more options and better coverage by shopping on kynect during open enrollment, which begins Nov. 1, 2015 and runs through Jan. 31, 2016.

“Soon we will begin another open enrollment period when Kentuckians can find more choices and affordable prices by shopping on kynect,” Gov. Beshear said. “Health experts from around the country have consistently called Kentucky a national leader for bringing coverage to over half a million Kentuckians through kynect. Just last month, federal Census data reported Kentucky’s uninsured rate had declined to 8.5 percent, making it the biggest drop in the number of uninsured in the country from 2013 to 2014. I encourage people who are currently uninsured and those who previously purchased a plan on kynect to come back and shop again during open enrollment, because they may find an even better plan for their family.”

To raise awareness of kynect’s upcoming 2016 open enrollment, this morning Gov. Beshear traveled to Lexington to talk with kynectors at Community Action of Kentucky at the Russell School Community Service Center.

In the afternoon, Gov. Beshear was in Louisville visiting the new kynect store at The Mall at St. Matthews. The Louisville kynect retail store, located at the mall entrance nearest Arhaus, will officially open to consumers Nov. 1. By popular demand, a Lexington kynect store will return to Fayette Mall again this year, but will be in a new location. This year’s Fayette Mall kynect store is just outside Dillard’s mall entrance. It will open in early November.

During the 2015 open enrollment, the kynect store at Fayette Mall welcomed more than 7,600 visitors and processed nearly 6,000 applications for healthcare coverage during open enrollment. The kynect stores will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Louisville store will also be open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additionally, the stores will be closed state holidays. The stores will be staffed daily by insurance agents certified by kynect, as well as kynectors who will assist individuals enrolling in a qualified health plan or Medicaid.

Depending on the county where an individual lives, kynect enrollees could choose from as many as seven insurance companies with expanded provider networks offering a total of 86 private health insurance plans. The insurance carriers for 2016 are Aetna, Anthem, Baptist Health, CareSource, Humana, United Healthcare and WellCare. Two insurers, Anthem and United Healthcare of Kentucky, will offer plans to residents in all 120 Kentucky counties.

The Kentucky Health Cooperative will not offer plans on the exchange for 2016. Current policyholders with the Kentucky Health Cooperative will continue to be covered through their existing policies, most of which expire Dec. 31, 2015. To ensure their coverage remains uninterrupted, co-op members will need to enroll in one of the other private insurance options available to them on kynect prior to Dec. 15, 2015.

“The number of insurers offering plans on kynect has consistently grown over the last two years, and now the competition has increased. Everyone will have at least two options of insurance companies in their counties for 2016,” Gov. Beshear said. “I encourage everyone who has a private insurance plan, whether it was purchased through kynect or is a pre-ACA policy they’ve previously renewed, to visit kynect and check out all the plan options that are now available. They may find a plan with better benefits at a lower cost than what they have now.”

New this year, kynect now features a shopping tool that will further assist consumers in targeting their search for the plan that best fits their unique insurance needs. The shopping tool can help estimate the annual medical cost for a household and help determine the most cost-effective plans available for individuals and families on kynect.

“With the new shopping tool, kynect users can input information about the overall health of their household members, enter their current health care providers, select ongoing medical conditions, and enter the prescription drugs that are used in their household,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “The shopping tool even allows users to identify any future anticipated medical needs, such as surgery or pregnancy, to ensure they are selecting the best plan for their family.”

Many Kentuckians qualify for special discounts and subsidies on their health insurance, which are only available for plans purchased through kynect. Individuals can determine if they qualify for discounts or tax credits by visiting the kynect website and using the pre-screening tools.

All plans sold on kynect must offer 10 essential health benefits, including doctor visits, hospitalization and emergency care; maternity and newborn care; pediatric care, including dental and vision coverage; prescriptions; medical tests; mental health care and substance abuse treatment; physical, speech and occupational therapy; and wellness checks. All plans must cover preventive care at no extra cost to the consumer, including flu and pneumonia shots and routine vaccinations. Plans must also cover most cancer screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

During the eight years of his administration, Gov. Beshear has made improving the health and wellness of Kentucky’s children, families and workforce one of his highest priorities.

“When I became Governor in 2007, Kentuckians had lost faith in their government and a global recession was threatening our jobs, homes and health care,” said Gov. Beshear. “Over the last eight years, we have undertaken a fundamental overhaul of how people access care, how health care is delivered, who can access it and what services they receive.”

“Because of these changes, Kentuckians no longer need choose between medicine and food, skip checkups or ignore troubling signs or pain, praying that these don’t developing into a chronic disease or fatal illness,” he said.

Building upon the success of kynect and Medicaid expansion, in February 2014, Gov. Beshear launched the kyhealthnow initiative to track the progress of health care reforms and advance the well-being of Kentucky’s citizens. The initiative identifies seven major health goals and detailed strategies to meet those goals by 2019.

In March 2015, the kyhealthnow oversight team, chaired by Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, released its first annual report, which cited measurable improvements in six of the seven major kyhealthnow goals, including reduced smoking and tobacco use, increased cancer screenings and prevention and a decline in the number of cardiovascular deaths.

“Prevention and early detection are critical to improving the health of Kentuckians,” Gov. Beshear said. “And since the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014, the number of Kentuckians accessing preventive services, such as cancer screenings, physicals and dental checkups, has significantly increased.”

In 2014, more than 159,500 Medicaid recipients received preventive dental services, nearly 51,300 were screened for breast cancer and more than 35,600 received colorectal cancer screenings – more than twice the number who received those services in 2013.

Kentucky’s First Lady Jane Beshear has complemented these efforts with a variety of health-related programs, including Horses and Hope, which began by providing breast cancer screenings, education and awareness to Kentucky’s equine industry employees and their families. In 2016, the program will expand with a mobile cancer-screening van equipped to screen for seven cancers, and will serve at-risk populations throughout the state.

“We have made tremendous progress on these goals, but there is much work left to do,” said Gov. Beshear.

As the 2016 open enrollment fast approaches, Carrie Banahan, executive director of kynect, reminds the public that health coverage is now required by law. Those who do not enroll could face a tax penalty – in addition to the personal risks associated with being uninsured.

“Individuals who do not obtain health coverage could face significant financial penalties when they file their taxes, not to mention the personal risks of not having healthcare coverage,” Banahan said. “kynect is easy to use and offers an array of options for Kentuckians – whether you qualify for Medicaid or enroll in one of the many qualified health plans offered on the exchange. Visit kynect and enroll starting Nov. 1.”

Individuals who need health insurance are encouraged to log on to kynect or contact an insurance agent or kynector to see their options for quality, affordable health coverage in 2016. Medicaid enrollment is open at any time.

Visit https://kynect.ky.gov or call 1-855-4kynect (459-6328) to learn more about affordable health care options for Kentuckians.

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