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Move to Federal Health Exchange Begins Tuesday for Kentuckians

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KENTUCKY CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES
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Kentuckians wanting to buy health insurance on the federal exchange will have fewer options and higher costs.

Starting Tuesday, enrollees will apply for coverage at www.healthcare.gov instead of the state-based exchange known as Kynect.  Anthem will be the only insurance provider, and the company will offer customers four plans.

Tonya Wooton works for Community Action of Southern Kentucky, and helps enrollees navigate the online application process. She says while premium increases are expected, they should be offset by subsidies.

"People also need to understand that if premiums increase and you're getting payment assistance, then you're payment assistance is also going to increase, so you may not feel it as much as you think you will," Wooton told WKU Public Radio.

Discounts and payment assistance are based on income.

Republican Governor Matt Bevin’s administration says the Affordable Care Act has caused insurers to pull out of exchange markets across the country, with those that stayed offering higher rates.

Open enrollment on the federal exchange is November 1-January 31, 2017.  Consumers must enroll in a plan by December 15 if they want coverage to begin January 1.

Calling the state-run exchange created under his Democratic predecessor redundant, Governor Bevin is fulfilling a campaign pledge to dismantle Kynect.  However, the website will continue as a landing page, giving consumers information on how to apply for coverage and re-directing them to the federal website.

Wooton adds that the Kynect call center also remains open to help pre-screen for eligibility and take questions.  The phone number is (855) 459-6328.

The move to the federal exchange is projected to save the state ten-million-dollars a year in operating costs.

© 2016 WKU Public Radio

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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