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September 17, 2013

Beshear: Most uninsured Kentuckians get discounts

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that most of Kentucky’s uninsured population will qualify for Medicaid coverage or federal subsidies and tax credits which will make health insurance affordable through the state’s new health benefit exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Five insurance companies have submitted rates approved by the Department of Insurance: Humana, Anthem, United Healthcare, Bluegrass Family Health, and The Kentucky Health Cooperative. All will cover an expanded list of services and no one can be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Beshear said four out of five uninsured Kentuckians will qualify for some sort of coverage with expanded Medicaid rolls. The new law will “provide affordable health insurance to every single Kentuckian for the first time in history.”

Presently 640,000 Kentuckians, about 15 percent of the state’s population, have no insurance.

“They roll the dice every day and just hope and pray they don’t get sick,” Beshear said. “They live knowing bankruptcy is just one bad diagnosis away.”

About 308,000 with incomes of 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. No one is required to sign up for Medicaid, contrary to some reports by critics of the law — but Beshear said he thinks people would be “crazy not to because they’ll get essentially free coverage.”

The remaining 332,000 can shop for health coverage through the health exchanges. Enrollment begins Oct. 1 and remains open until March 31, 2014 but those who sign up by Dec. 15 of this year will receive coverage beginning Jan. 1.

Individual and family rates will vary depending upon age, the number of people on the policy, whether the covered person or persons smoke and the region of the state in which they live.

Beshear cautioned it is nearly impossible to compare rates to plans which were available before the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — because of different coverages and benefits. Critics of the new law have predicted skyrocketing premiums.

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