Health

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Wednesday that Kentucky will transition back to a state-based health insurance exchange, known as Kynect.

In 2017, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin dismantled Kynect, and Kentuckians had to start purchasing health coverage on the federal exchange instead. That federal program comes with about a 3% user fee, which Beshear said cost people in Kentucky $9.8 million in 2018.

“In the last four years we moved backwards on health care,” Beshear said. “We’ve been paying more, over the last four years, to get less.”

The move back to Kynect also has a price tag: a one-time cost of $5 million to get the system going again, and between one and two million dollars in annual operating costs. But Beshear said it will lower the premiums Kentucky patients pay, simplify coverage, and improve health outcomes statewide.

The governor pointed to Kentucky’s high rates of diabetes, lung cancer, and congestive heart failure as factors that made our population susceptible to complications from coronavirus.

“This pandemic shows us that lack of good health care options makes us more vulnerable and less resilient,” Beshear said.

Kynect was started in 2013 by Beshear’s father, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. When the state-based exchanged was launched, about 500,000 people who previously didn’t qualify were able to enroll in Medicaid and other health plans, according to the state.

Gov. Beshear said he has sent a letter of intent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informing them of Kentucky’s plans to move to a state-based exchange beginning January 2022.

Laura oversees WFPL's podcast strategy and produces Curious Louisville, where listeners submit questions and our reporters find out the answers.