Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Update

January 1, 2014

Carter Countians among thousands of area residents signing up for new health coverage

Jan. 1, 2014 —     Despite the dire predictions of certain politicians and others, more than 800 Carter County residents are among nearly 5,000 area residents signed up for new federally-mandated health care starting today, Jan. 1.

    In statistics compiled through Dec. 22, Carter and its six contiguous counties had 4,875 persons enroll in expanded Medicaid or purchase private health insurance, with or without the federal subsidy.

    Statewide, it was reported that 100,096 Kentuckians were on the rolls by Dec. 22. That figure is expected to rise through the March 31 deadline for coverage in 2014.

    Current county totals include Carter 808; Boyd, 1,191; Greenup, 915; Rowan, 673; Lewis, 554; Lawrence, 549; and Elliott, 185.

    The figures appear to be proportionate to each county’s population.

    In something of a surprise, the Kentucky statistics show nearly 40 percent of those enrolling are 35 or younger.

    A total of 684,000 visitors had accessed the state website at kynect.ky.gov, including an increase of nearly 62,000 in the previous week.

    Of those who went to the website, 518,000 have conducted preliminary screenings to determine if they qualified for insurance subsidies or discounts or for Medicaid.

    Medicaid is a state-administered health insurance program for low-income families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

    Critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have noted that the enrollments in private insurance plans are well below projections.

    As of the reporting date, 74,054 persons had enrolled in Medicaid and 26,042 have enrolled in a qualified health plan. It was noted that insurance purchases had increased 121 percent since Thanksgiving.

    An additional 36,700 persons statewide have become eligible for a subsidy to purchase a health plan but many have not yet done so.

    Also, 8,437 have enrolled in dental plans.

    The state statistics also revealed that 1,232 small businesses had started applications for employee coverage.

    About 500 of those businesses had completed applications and become eligible to offer coverage to employees.

    It was reported that more than 279,000 telephone calls had been processed by the Kynect call center, a 79 percent increase in volume since Thanksgiving.

    Under ACA, a qualified health plan must be certified by the Health Insurance Marketplace and provide essential health benefits, follow established limits on cost-sharing like deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-pocket maximum amounts.

    When the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange began accepting enrollments on Oct. 1, it was estimated that 640,000 Kentuckians had no health coverage.

    Gov. Steve Beshear claimed that making “affordable, accessible health care” available to every Kentuckian was No. 1 on his list of 10 greatest achievements of 2013.

    The governor has been in the national spotlight for months for what his administration says is the most efficient implementation of ACA in the entire country.

    If the original estimate of 640,000 uninsured was accurate, the new health care law will have  embraced about 16 percent of those in need by today, its effective date.

    Keith Kappes can be reached at kkappes@ journal-times.com or by telephone at 800-247-6142.

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