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Gov. Beshear: kynect state-based exchange opens Nov. 1, offers direct access to quality health coverage

In News, State by OC Monitor Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Taking another major step forward in his commitment to provide quality health care to Kentuckians, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday kynect, the state-based health insurance exchange, will reopen Nov. 1, 2021, to provide Kentuckians easier access to health coverage and other benefits.

The move, approved recently by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, allows Kentuckians to access and compare state-managed health care options, apply for coverage and complete their enrollment all on one convenient platform at kynect.ky.gov.

“Quality health care is a basic human right – and never has that need been more evident than during the COVID-19 global health pandemic,” said Beshear. “Kentucky’s economy has caught fire, and we’ve just landed the largest economic investment in the state’s history, but we can’t succeed in building a better Kentucky if our people are not healthy and ready to work. kynect was a lifesaver for so many when it was first offered in 2013, and we’re excited to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring it back and make sure all Kentuckians can easily access the health plans and benefits they deserve.”

Compared with current federal exchange offerings, Kentuckians will benefit in 2022 from more health care insurance providers and the opportunity to tailor coverage to address their unique needs. The change is expected to save Kentuckians at least $15 million a year. People who buy commercial health plans through the federal site pay a surcharge on premiums, which will not continue with the state-based marketplace. Savings will be passed on to Kentuckians who buy health coverage through the marketplace. Restoring the portal and other kynect services will help Kentuckians get better access to local support throughout the application process.

Key Dates

Beginning Oct. 15, 2021, at kynect.ky.gov, Kentuckians will be able to browse plans and explore benefits that take effect Jan. 1, 2022. Enrollment for 2022 begins Nov. 1, 2021, and closes Jan. 15, 2022.

Improved Coverage

The commonwealth will receive $650,000 in American Rescue Plan Act grant funding from CMS to support the reopening of kynect. Kentuckians will once again have access to all the benefits of the original state-based kynect, launched in 2013, including the ability to determine eligibility for Medicaid or a subsidy to help offset their out-of-pocket premium costs.

In addition to Anthem’s statewide coverage and CareSource, which offers plans in 100 counties, consumers can shop for plans available in select counties from two new health insurers; Ambetter from WellCare of Kentucky and Passport Health Plan by Molina.

Also new in January 2022, Kentuckians will be able to purchase a vision plan through kynect. VSP Individual Vision Plans will offer enrollees a comprehensive eye exam from an in-network doctor, an eye frame allowance and lens enhancements, such as progressives.

kynect Relaunch

In October 2020, Beshear launched a reimagined kynect website that readied the commonwealth to move back to a state-based marketplace. In addition to the new medical benefits, kynect provides Kentuckians with information about other types of income or need-based assistance and benefits, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, and the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program

Since October 2020, the kynect portal has been logged into more than 2.3 million times by more than 1.8 million visitors. Nearly 105,000 applications for benefits have been submitted, and nearly 1 million supporting documents have been uploaded. This is a 180% increase over the daily average noted last year from January through September.

“kynect is truly a one-stop-shop for consumers in need of health coverage, whether it’s Medicaid or a private insurance plan,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander. “With its convenient, mobile-friendly option, it’s also the place to go for access to other resources that you or someone you know may need, including food assistance, transportation, employment, job training and veterans’ benefits. It will also connect Kentuckians with community services in partnership with Kentucky United Way chapters through all the organizations available on their statewide 211 platform, including clothing, transportation, housing and more.”

Kentucky’s original, award-winning state-based health benefit exchange helped Kentucky achieve the biggest drop in the uninsured rate in the nation from 2013-2014. The popular, state-based marketplace was dismantled in 2016 under the previous administration, inconveniencing thousands of Kentuckians as they were forced to apply for coverage on the federal health care exchange, losing the local, community-based and in-person guidance that had been a signature of kynect’s success. As a result, many Kentuckians lost health care coverage.

To learn more visit kynect.ky.gov.

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