Kentucky is officially relaunching the Kynect Health Coverage program that was shuttered in 2017 by former Governor Matt Bevn, and the time has arrived for Kentuckians who purchase health insurance through the federal exchange to begin previewing health coverage plans for 2022. The website kynect.ky.gov officially went live this morning for customers to begin reviewing and comparing plans, with the official enrollment period running from Nov. 1, 2021 through Jan. 15, 2022.

For area residents who are uncomfortable purchasing their insurance through a website, or just prefer working with an actual person, there are a number of avenues available.

Health First Community Health Clinics has a qualified Kynector available to assist customers through the process.

“A lot of people don’t want to mess with the website, so all they have to do is give me a call,” said Kristin Wasielewski. “Because of COVID-19, this year this have made it so that we can actually process applications over the phone.”

Interested parties can contact her directly at 270-215-5017, through the Health First main number at 1-800-667-7017 or if they are an existing patient, they can get questions answered at their local clinic.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get the health care coverage they need,” Wasielewski said.

Cole and Durham Insurance in Madisonville will also be available to assist customers with Kynect. Bryan Buchanan will serve as the agency’s official contact and can be reached at 270-821-5527.

Kynect was officially launched in 2013 by then Governor Steve Beshear under the Affordable Care Act. The program was closed in 2017 by Governor Matt Bevin, who said the site was too expensive to maintain and was redundant. Since that time customers have had to purchase their coverage through the federal website.

According to a release from the Governor’s office, the switch back to a state-based marketplace is expected to save Kentuckians at least $15 million a year. Kentuckians who buy commercial health plans through the federal site pay a surcharge on premiums, which will not continue with the state-based marketplace. Savings will be passed on to people who buy health coverage through the marketplace. Restoring the portal and other kynect services will help people get access with more local support throughout the application process, including the ability to determine eligibility for Medicaid or help offsetting their out-of-pocket premium costs.

The state-based marketplace relaunch, recently approved by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will allow Kentuckians to access and compare state-managed health care options, apply for coverage and complete their enrollment all on one platform. The relaunched portal also will help connect Kentuckians with other benefits and resources, including food, utilities assistance, transportation, job training and veterans’ benefits.

“As COVID cases continue to decline and our economy surges, we’re excited to be bringing back the state-based health care marketplace,” Gov. Beshear said. “Making sure all Kentuckians have access to affordable health care coverage helps further strengthen our economy and our families by reducing the consequences of being uninsured. During this preview period, we encourage Kentuckians to visit kynect to see if they may be able to access more benefits while reducing their monthly health plan costs.”

The new plans take effect Jan. 1, 2022, which gives Kentuckians time to review plan details from the insurer.

The Governor said Kynect also offers a solution for small businesses through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. The plans are available for employers insuring two to 50 employees and allow health coverage issuers to provide Kentucky’s smallest businesses with affordable plan options that offer essential benefits.

Free help is available to Kentuckians during the Open Enrollment Period, Nov. 1, 2021, to Jan.15, 2022.

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