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The Long-Uninsured Line Up for Health Care in Rural Kentucky

The expanded availability of health insurance in Kentucky scored another national profile over the weekend when The Washington Post visited Breathitt County.

"In rural Kentucky, health care debate takes back seat as long-uninsured line up line up," the headline read.

The latest numbers sent to the media by Governor Steve Beshear's office indicate that 56,000 Kentuckians are enrolled in the new health insurance exchange known as kynect. 41% are under the age of 35. The program has enrolled roughly 1,000 people per day since its October 1 launch.

As part of continuing outreach and education, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is mailing notices this week to 300,000 Kentuckians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and child support to advise them to check kynect for opportunities for health insurance for their families.   Over the coming weeks, more outreach will be targeted for population groups who may benefit from kynect.

The Washington Post took notice of one of the poorest, most unhealthy counties in America when it visited Breathitt County:

Lively, who has been signing people up since the exchanges opened in early October, said one woman cried when she was told she qualified for Medicaid under the new law. She said people have been “pouring in” to her office, an unused exam room in the back of the clinic, where her set-up includes a table, a two-drawer filing cabinet, manila folders, a planner to track her schedule, a notebook to track her numbers and a laptop that connects to the state health-insurance exchange, Kynect.

Clinic doctors often send patients without insurance her way after their visits, but most come by word of mouth. Lively has signed up fathers who then sent their sons, and mothers who sent aunts. She signed up one Subway sandwich shop worker, and soon what seemed like the whole staff showed up.

Although she once had to dispel a rumor that enrolling involved planting a microchip in your arm, and though she avoids calling the new law “Obamacare” in a red state, most people need little persuading.

“All right,” she said to her next client, a 52-year-old disabled master electrician who said his mother, two brothers and two sisters all died from lung cancer. He had been ignoring a spot on his lung discovered during a visit to the emergency room after he had broken his ribs several years ago.

He also vaguely recalled being told at the time he had something called “wedging of the spine.”

Read the full story: Washington Post

Photo: Breathitt Co. Courthouse/via Wikipedia by W. Marsh