Study Show Kentucky is National Leader in Reducing Uninsured, but Private Plan Costs to Increase
The percentage of adults under the age of 65 who do not have health insurance decreased by double digits in approximately half of Kentucky’s counties, says Enroll America, which released county-level data showing who the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped most, Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz report for The New York Times. “In 2013, the uninsured rate was 19.4 percent, but this year it has fallen to 10.8 percent.”
This map of the U.S. shows how Kentucky is much different from other regional states in terms of reducing the numbers of uninsured. The insert gives numbers for Pike County specifically. The number of insured in that far-Eastern Kentucky county went down 11 percentage points from 24 percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2014. (Photo provided)
For an interactive map giving data county-by-county, click here.
“The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; Southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon,” Quealy and Sanger-Katz write.
“Each of these trends is going in the opposite direction of larger economic patterns. Young people have fared substantially worse in the job market than older people in recent years. Blacks and Hispanics have fared worse than whites and Asians. Rural areas have fallen further behind larger metropolitan areas.”
About 10 million Americans who had no insurance in 2013 signed up for Obamacare this year, and the national uninsured rate for adults under 65 dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent, Quealy and Sanger-Katz write.
“People with the lowest incomes tended to benefit the most from the law,” Quealy and Sanger-Katz write. In states such as Kentucky “that expanded Medicaid, low-income people can get insurance without having to pay a premium. And for middle-income people who qualify for tax credits to help them buy insurance, the subsidies are most generous for those lowest on the income scale. Poorer people were always the least likely to have insurance because their jobs rarely offered it and private premiums were often unaffordable.”
To read more, click here.
Most who bought private insurance on Kynect will pay higher premiums in 2015
Most premiums for private health insurance purchased through Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, Kynect, will increase in 2015.
Most of the people who have used Kynect have been added to Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Only about 85,000 Kentuckians used the site to purchase private plans.
Health insurance companies have filed their rate requests for 2015, and the state Department of Insurance has approved most of them, reports Adam Beam of The Associated Press.
Officials have approved a 15 percent average rate increase for the Kentucky Health Cooperative, which sold 75 percent of private plans on the exchange.
Humana and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield each sold 12.5 percent of the private plans on Kynect. Humana’s premiums will rise an average of 12.8 percent, but rates for Anthem will go down an average of 4.3 percent, Beam reports. Rates apparently have not been set for two new companies that will join the exchange, CareSource and WellCare.
“Rates off the exchange are increasing, too, in both the small group and individual markets,” writes Beam. For example, Time Insurance Co.’s individual rates will go up an average of 15 percent, and the small group rates for Time, Bluegrass Family Health and John Alden Life Insurance Co. will rise an average of 5 percent.
Department of Insurance spokeswoman Ronda Sloan told Beam that rates for large group plans were not available yet. The rate certification process will be finalized before open enrollment, which begins on Nov. 15, 2014, and runs through Feb. 15, 2015.
The averages can be misleading because Kynect offers approximately 70,000 different rates, which vary depending on numerous variables, such as the type of plan, where people live, how old they are and whether they smoke.
Kynect was one of the few online health insurance portals that actually functioned when Obamacare launched a year ago. An estimated 521,000 Kentuckians have obtained insurance through the website, reducing the state’s uninsured rate from 20 percent to 12 percent, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said in a recent video update.
Beshear said this sharp reduction in the uninsured proves that Kynect is working. Republicans say higher insurance premiums and difficulty finding doctors prove it isn’t.
From Kentucky Health News via KyForward