Monday August 15, 2022
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HealthCare.Gov Transition Begins

LogoOptionsCurrently, about 84,000 Kentuckians have a current QHP purchased on the exchange.

Here are “five things to know” about the move from kynect to healthcare.gov.

Transition facts: 

We expect a smooth transition to healthcare.gov.  People should be aware that kynect is not health insurance, it is a website. This transition changes the web portal people use to enroll. Healthcare.gov is used now in nearly 4 out of 5 states.  Kentucky will save at least $10 million each year in operating costs by making the switch.

People should also be aware that there is less competition/choice for plans this year and premiums are increasing on the exchange by more than 20 percent. Regarding plan choice, people should know that this transition to healthcare.gov did not affect plan choice. All insurers made the same offerings regardless of the enrollment website selected, which are the same as in prior years. However, the instability created in the exchange markets by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has caused insurers to pull out of the exchange markets across the country, and we saw that here in Kentucky.  If they did not pull out, they adjusted for the risk with substantial rate increases. Cost increases were not driven by the transition to healthcare.gov.

Here are some key points for Kentuckians to know:

  • Nothing changes with 2016 coverage.  Plans are still valid through Dec. 31, 2016.
  • Beginning Nov. 1, 2016, Kentuckians who qualify for a Qualified Health Plan need to apply and enroll at HealthCare.gov for 2017 coverage.
  • Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for 2017 Qualified Health Plan coverage is from Nov. 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2017.  You must enroll by Dec. 15, 2016 for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2017.
  • If a person is enrolled in 2016 with an issuer that will not be offering plans in 2017 on HealthCare.gov, the enrollee will have more time to choose a plan for 2017 due to a Special Enrollment Period for Loss of Minimum Essential Coverage.
  • Kentuckians can only get the tax credit, called APTC or Advanced Premium Tax Credit or a Cost Sharing Reduction that helps cover out-of-pocket costs by enrolling through HealthCare.gov.
  • The Medicaid program and application process have not changed.  If a person is enrolled in Medicaid, they do not need to do anything until their renewal/recertification date.  If someone is Medicaid eligible, he/she can apply anytime during the year.
  • The kynect call center (855-459-6328) is still here to help direct Kentuckians where to go for coverage.  The call center will help prescreen for program eligibility and can assist with Medicaid applications. The call center can also help with questions and information.
  • HealthCare.gov customer service call center can be reached at 800-318-2596 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Where to apply

Kentuckians who have applied for or enrolled in coverage through kynect are receiving notices in the mail about the transition. These notices explain the transition and directs them where to go and what to do for 2017 coverage.  Postcard reminders with relevant dates and helpful information are sent every three weeks to remind them to enroll and guide them through enrollment.

Beginning Nov. 1, the kynect website will serve as a landing page and offer detailed messaging and direction on when and where to apply. The kynect customer service contact center can assist with questions, prescreening eligibility, and Medicaid applications. When consumers call kynect they will hear a special message with information about changes for 2017.  Their number is 855-459-6328.

Media advertising and events are planned to begin throughout the state to inform the public of where to go to apply and enroll.

The HealthCare.gov website has messaging in place for Kentucky residents as well as messages through their phone system. The HealthCare.gov customer service call center can be reached at 800-318-2596 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The kynect Customer Service call center can assist with questions, prescreening eligibility, and Medicaid application at 855-459-6328.

There are specially trained groups that can offer in person assistance in every county. Kentuckians can search for an insurance agent or application assister (formerly called kynectors) who can work with them in person or over the phone to answer questions or get assistance with the application and enrollment process.

Kentuckians can use the “search” function on the kynect website or they can call Customer Service to help them find someone in the consumer’s area who can help them.
HealthCare.gov customer service call center can be reached at 800-318-2596 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

HealthCare.gov targets: 

While there has been plenty of media around the transition throughout the year, the most focused use of our resources has been a targeted campaign to contact people who have used kynect to purchase QHPs in the past.  Only about 2 percent of Kentucky’s population purchases a QHP in a given year, so targeting resources to this group and doing it in the final month leading up to open enrollment and continuing through open enrollment is the most effective use of resources. These are strategies the state used effectively to re-enroll people after the Kentucky Co-Op collapsed and left 51,000 without insurance.  Here are some of the targeted outreach activities:

  • Targeted notices to Kentuckians explain the transition and steps enrollees or applicants need to take for 2017 coverage.
  • Postcards will be mailed every three weeks during open enrollment to remind Kentuckians to complete the enrollment process on healthcare.gov.
  • Issuers are also sending notices to their enrollees to notify them of changes and next steps.
  • Insurance agents and application assisters have advertising tool kits for education and outreach efforts.
  • Agents and assisters were provided a list of all their QHP enrollees for outreach.
  • Social media messages will offer direction and information.
  • Targeted advertisements will be placed on social media platforms.
  • Text messaging and email campaigns will be sent to enrollees.
  • Display advertising will be placed around the state.
  • Radio spots will run in various markets.

You can also expect to see press releases with details for the general public leading up to open enrollment and continuing throughout with key dates.

Also, from an internal standpoint, additional training and technical assistance has been given to assistors or kynectors and agents so they can navigate consumers through the process. KOHBIE conducted eight forums throughout the state for stakeholders.  Locations and dates were Sept. 20, Northern KY; Sept. 22, Frankfort; Oct. 3, Owensboro; Oct. 4, Paducah; Oct. 7, Louisville; Oct. 10, Morehead; Oct. 11, Prestonsburg; Oct. 13, Somerset.

Agents, navigators, advocacy groups, and other interested stakeholders attended these forums which were designed to inform and educate participants about the transition, the FFM processes, available trainings and resources (both federal and state level) and allowed for a question and answer period with KOHBIE staff.  Again, we think this will help these groups to work with the public through open enrollment.

KOHBIE is hosting two webinars a week on different subjects to prepare agents and all assister types for the transition.  Additional webinars will continue to be held on various topics as needed.

kynectors are application assisters:

Kentucky has a contract with the same organizations for assistance as in previous years and we expect similar levels of assisters as in previous years. Some volunteers and workers for these organizations are still in the process of completing training for HealthCare.gov and state training; therefore, we do not yet have the firm number of participating assisters for 2017.  We are confident our assister agencies will have the ability to provide the same exceptional service.
kynectors are now called application assisters. Every county in Kentucky is served by a contracted organization for in-person assistance. kynectors have a very active outreach program that includes sign up events, advertising, and education opportunities. They will continue to be very active in the communities they serve.  To contact an application assister, Kentuckians can use the search function on the kynect website or call the kynect customer service contact center.

All notices that were mailed to applicants and enrollees explaining the transition included contact information for the Application Assister or Insurance Agent of record.

It is worth noting that consumers cannot apply in the wrong way or place.  For example, if an application is started in benefind but is QHP eligible, it will transfer to the federal marketplace.  If a consumer submits an application to HealthCare.gov, it will be entered and if found potentially Medicaid eligible, it will be transferred to the state for eligibility determination.  Same customer service number and websites are still here to help answer questions and direct people to the right place.

Beginning one week from today Kentuckians will use healthcare.gov, instead of kynect, to purchase a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) during the 2017 open enrollment period. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) expects a smooth transition to healthcare.gov. The move to the federal exchange simply changes the web portal Kentuckians will use to enroll and is projected to save more than $10 million per year in operating cost once transitioned.

“Health insurance is a vital piece of maintaining health and wellbeing,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson. “We want to make sure Kentuckians interested in purchasing a qualified health plan know where to shop. Anyone with questions or who encounters difficulty with enrollment is encouraged to contact a call center for assistance.”

The call center for the state exchange is available at 855-459-6328 to assist Kentuckians with questions about where to go for coverage. The call center can help prescreen for program eligibility and help with questions and information. The HealthCare.gov customer service center is also available. It can be reached by calling 800-318-2596. The healthcare.gov call center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Glisson and CHFS officials noted that nearly four out of five states now use the federal exchange for QHP enrollment. Like the old state-based exchange, the federal site requires the creation of a user account and a completed online application. Insurance can start as soon as Jan. 1, 2017, but Kentuckians will not be able to register or shop for plans until Nov. 1.

While the process for enrollment will not differ greatly, consumers will notice some changes to the amount and types of plans available for purchase in 2017 due to the decision by some insurers not to participate in the marketplace.

“People should be aware that there are fewer choices for plans this year and premiums are increasing on the exchange more than 20 percent,” said Sec. Glisson. “Cost increases were not driven by the transition from kynect to healthcare.gov. They are merely the reality of the current volatility in insurance markets as insurers react to the burdensome requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Many Kentuckians enrolling through healthcare.gov will qualify for Advanced Premium Tax Credits, which should greatly offset some of the cost of the plans.”

Kentuckians who have previously enrolled in health insurance through the state’s exchange will receive a notice by mail and/or email with details about changing to healthcare.gov. Postcard reminders with relevant dates and helpful information will be sent at regular intervals with guidance about the enrollment process.

“Only about two percent of Kentucky’s population purchases a QHP in a given year, so targeting resources to this group and doing it in the final month leading up to open enrollment and continuing through open enrollment is the most effective use of resources,” continued Secretary Glisson.

In recent months, CHFS staff has been 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 is also being offered to assistors – previously known as kynectors – who contract with the state to provide information and help Kentuckians with enrollment assistance.

During the open enrollment period, CHFS has 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 will also receive a toolkit prepared with information to assist with the transition to the federal site.

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 anything by using benefind which has a pre-screening tool to help determine if a person is eligible for Medicaid or a QHP.

If a consumer submits an application to healthcare.gov and the applicant is determined to be eligible for Medicaid then the application is transferred to the state’s benefind system for eligibility determination. If the resident is determined to be eligible then benefind, the integrated system for all entitlement programs, will notify the participant and communicate next steps that need to be taken.

“It’s important to remember that kynect was not insurance. It was a website used for enrollment.  Consumers should know that they cannot apply for coverage in the wrong place,” concluded Sec. Glisson. “During enrollment, the kynect website will be maintained as a landing page that will provide consumers with detailed information on how to apply and redirect appropriately, whether that is purchasing insurance at healthcare.gov or enrolling in Medicaid with benefind.”

Consumers still in need of coverage for the remainder of 2016 can enroll through the state exchange, kynect.ky.gov. Certain life changes, such as having a baby or losing coverage, have to occur to be eligible to enroll now. All 2016 plans end Dec. 31 regardless of when enrollment occurred.

Jerrry Abramson as Louisville MayorFormer Louisville Mayor Resigns as Lt. Gov. to Fill Federal Position – Luallen to Fill Second-in-Command Role

Jerry Abramson is stepping down from his position as Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor after Barack Obama tapped the democrat for the role of White House Liason to Staet and Local Government.  Abramson earned the nickname of Louisville’s “mayor for life” after occupying the office for 21 years – the longest tenure in the position’s history.

One of Abramson’s duties in his new role will be to help coordinate with states on Obamacare’s upcoming second open enrollment period which begins on November 15 and lasts for three months. Abramson was tapped, in part, due to his experience as chairman of Kentucky’s health care initiative, one of the more successful state exchanges under Obamacare with more than 400,000 people enrolled.  This announcement comes at an interesting time, as John Boehner and Mitch McConnell renew efforts to repeal the Obamacare law following the “shellacking” suffered by democrats in the midterm elections.

Additional  duties for Abramson include work on education and economic issues, including work toward raising the minimum wage in states and cities as Congress rejects Obama’s call for a national increase.

The appointment, not subject to Senate confirmation, sees Abramson replace departing David Agnew.  The position reports to Obama consigliere, Valerie Jarrett.  Former state auditor Crit Luallen will step up to fill the state’s vacated second-in-command role.  Luallen has also served in various positions in the Commonwealth, including state budget director, secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet, secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet and secretary of the Tourism Cabinet.

Abramson’s resignation will be effective November 13 and he will begin his new position the following day, one day before the open enrollment period begins.

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