April 8, 2014

Health care signup in state extended


FRANKFORT — While the national health exchange established by the Affordable Care Act — known to some as Obamacare — suffered glitches, crashes and delays, the Kentucky-run exchange, Kynect, was often used as a national model.

Nevertheless, those in Kentucky who didn’t sign up before the March 31 deadline will have a second chance to enroll.

Kentucky enrolled more than 370,000 people for health coverage through privately purchased plans or through expanded Medicaid rolls, about 8.6 percent of the state’s total population, when the enrollment period ended at midnight on March 31.

Around 12,000 signed up on that day alone, according to Gov. Steve Beshear’s office. Traffic was heavy enough that the administration believes some prospective enrollees may have had trouble completing applications on the final day of enrollment.

So, Kynect will go along with the extension of enrollment which President Barack Obama announced for the national exchange.

Anyone who attempted to sign up but was unable to for some reason may still purchase health insurance and enroll beginning Friday through April 11.

“We are thrilled with the level of interest and enrollment that we’ve seen for our first open enrollment period,” said Carrie Banahan, Kynect executive director.

Banahan said the goal for Kynect was always to enroll anyone who needed but couldn’t afford health insurance — even if that now means extending by a week the enrollment period.

“In order to make sure everyone who tried to start or file an application (Monday) has a chance to do so, there will be a special enrollment period from April 4 to midnight April 11,” Banahan said. “We strongly encourage those who started applications to complete them as soon as possible to reduce possible wait times toward the end of the grace period.”

Nationally more than 7 million people and small businesses have signed up for coverage, according to the Obama administration which last week announced it would extend its enrollment period as well because of late demand.

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