The health insurance exchanges, which are a major component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, launched last October 1. The federal insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, received criticism because potential consumers faced difficulty using the site to sign up for health insurance, causing many individuals to give up without completing the process. Healthcare.gov has recently re-launched and consumers have reported a vast improvement over the original launch. However, there are still concerns regarding healthcare.gov’s ability to enroll uninsured individuals as it had planned.
State-based health insurance exchanges, on the other hand, are generally outperforming healthcare.gov. Fourteen states elected to run their own exchanges. These states account for less than one-third of the population, but they account for more than half of recent Medicaid enrollments and 75 percent of private insurance enrollments.
Kentucky is one such state that chose to run its own exchange, called kynect, and it has experienced relative success in enrolling Kentucky residents in Medicaid and private insurance. Kentucky has enrolled approximately 72,000 individuals, which includes 56,400 new Medicaid enrollees. In fact, Kentucky ranks sixth in the country for most enrollments, and, per capita, it has enrolled more individuals in Medicaid and private insurance than any other state. Carrie Banahan, the executive director of kynect, explains that Kentucky’s website is not overly complicated and that Kentucky chose a simpler website to avoid error messages and freezing, both of which have plagued the federal exchange. Additionally, Kentucky spent three months testing its website as compared to the federal government that reportedly tested the site for two weeks before its launch.
This is not to say that kynect is not without problems. Consumers have faced obstacles in completing applications and enrolling in health insurance. In some cases, the website is unable to confirm an individual’s identity. The kynect administration installs software updates and works with consumers individually to fix such issues. Further, the kynect administration has implemented a three-tiered system for responding to problems, which moves problems up the chain of command depending on the complexity of the issue. Despite these problems, Kentucky has seen an increase in enrollment, with more than 11,000 individuals enrolling in health insurance in the 10 days following Thanksgiving. Further, Governor Beshear recently stated that he is pleased with kynect’s results thus far, and he intends to move forward with drafting regulations to fully implement the exchange.Back to news