Health Politics

Kentuckians trying to get health insurance through the state-based marketplace will use healthcare.gov instead of Kynect starting Nov. 1.

Personal information of those who previously used Kynect to get insurance will not be transferred to the federal platform, so consumers will have to reapply on the federal website.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration says the move will save the state about $10 million per year in operating costs.

“Health insurance is a vital piece of maintaining health and well-being,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson in a statement. “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 state call center is 855-459-6328 and the federal call center, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is 800-318-2596.

Bevin promised to dismantle Kynect and scale back the state’s Medicaid expansion during his race for governor last year. He said the state-run exchange was “redundant” and “adds no value” because Kentuckians could simply sign up for health insurance through the federal platform.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved Bevin’s request to transition from Kynect to healthcare.gov.

This year, 74,640 people were enrolled via Kynect.

The state’s health cabinet says those who previously got health insurance through Kynect will receive a mailed or emailed notice with details about enrolling in healthcare.gov.

Glisson said the Kynect website will be maintained as a landing page that will tell people how to enroll on healthcare.gov.

“It’s important to remember that Kynect was not insurance,” Glisson said in the statement. “It was a website used for enrollment.”

The variety of health insurance plans available in Kentucky has decreased in recent years. Recently, Aetna, United HealthCare and Baptist Health Plan withdrew from the state’s insurance market, leaving 59 counties in the state with only one health insurance option on the exchange.

Health insurance prices are increasing, too — federal officials announced Monday that premiums for mid-level plans on the federal marketplace will go up about 25 percent this year.

Though individuals will start applying for coverage on the federal exchange starting Nov. 1, small business owners, those wishing to add a family member and other special cases will be able to use the Kynect website until Mar. 31, 2017.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.