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State: Transition from Kynect to Healthcare.gov "a Success"

Open Enrollment for 2017 is now complete and Kentucky officials are reporting a successful transition from kynect to the federal health insurance marketplace.

Though Kentucky was heralded in many circles as a national model for successful implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, under former Governor Steve Beshear, current Governor Matt Bevin vowed to do away with Kentucky's kynect program, pushing users to the federal exchange.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said that the transition to Healthcare.gov has been a success.

Enrollment figures for 2017 are on par with coverage obtained via the previous state exchange known as kynect. Once the transition is fully complete, Kentucky anticipates saving in excess of $10 million annually by not having to operate its own exchange, a news release stated.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 81,155 Kentuckians had enrolled in federally Qualified Health Plan (QHP) at healthcare.gov at the close of the 2017 enrollment period. Prior to this Open Enrollment, 82,681 Kentuckians had purchased a QHP through the old state-based exchange (these figures do not pertain to Kentucky Medicaid enrollment). 

“These numbers clearly show the transition to the federal marketplace was a success,” said Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, the cabinet's secretary. “We have worked very hard to make sure this change produced minimal impact on consumers so that, at the end of the day, someone purchasing insurance through the federal marketplace was simply moving from one website to another.”

CHFS maintained numerous state-based services, including a call center to assist Kentuckians with enrollment questions, continued contracts with application assistors who were available throughout the Commonwealth for enrollment assistance and aggressive outreach campaigns targeting Kentuckians who purchased a marketplace product in 2016.

Kentuckians who had previously enrolled in health insurance through the state’s exchange received notices by mail and/or email with details about changing to healthcare.gov. Postcard reminders with relevant dates and helpful information were also sent at regular intervals with guidance about the enrollment process.

Heading into enrollment, CHFS staff engaged in numerous efforts to prepare for the transition from kynect to healthcare.gov. A series of eight forums were held in cities throughout the Commonwealth. The forums provided information about the transition from kynect to healthcare.gov for various stakeholders. More training and technical assistance was offered to assistors as well.

During the open enrollment period, CHFS planned targeted outreach to QHP enrollees, including digital and radio advertising, social media messaging, text and email messaging campaigns and outreach to news media. Agents and assistors also received a toolkit prepared with information to assist with the transition to the federal site.

Meanwhile, transitioning to healthcare.gov also meant all Kentuckians purchasing insurance on the marketplace had to actively enroll, as opposed to the previous year when clients were passively enrolled if keeping the same plan.

“Because of these factors heading into enrollment, we wanted to have a plan in place to reach Kentucky consumers and prepare them for these changes,” said Glisson. “Our final figures for the close of open enrollment confirm our strategic communication efforts were successful.”

Meanwhile, the Medicaid program application process has not changed. Medicaid members may enroll throughout the year and re-enroll in accordance with their own specific re-certification schedule. Medicaid-eligible residents can apply by using benefind which has a pre-screening tool to help determine if a person is eligible for Medicaid or a QHP.

-Staff report