Kentucky’s state-based health insurance exchange — called kynect — will reopen Nov. 1 to provide residents easier access to health coverage and other benefits, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday.
The move, approved recently by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 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.
Beshear said 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.
Beginning Oct. 15, 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.
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.
In October 2020, Beshear launched a new 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.
“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,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander. “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 state-based marketplace was dismantled in 2016 under the previous administration.