Kentucky Takes Advantage of Obamacare’s Health Insurance Marketplace

Kentucky Takes Advantage of Obamacare’s Health Insurance Marketplace

obamacare kentucky

Kentucky is one of the many states that has taken advantage of the Obamacare health insurance marketplace, known as kynect. In fact, more than 1 in 10 Kentuckians have gotten health insurance through the exchange or Medicaid expansion.

The ACA has been a win for the state of Kentucky, as it has made coverage much more affordable for low-income families and helped close racial and ethnic disparities in uninsured rates. But if a Republican healthcare bill passes Congress, it could lead to more people losing their coverage and a corresponding rise in the cost of healthcare for all.


In the months since Kentucky’s Obamacare exchange opened in November 2016, more than a half-million residents have signed up. The health insurance marketplace, called kynect, has been an enormous success.

The health insurance market was designed to help people who haven’t been able to afford coverage on their own or through their employers buy plans that are affordable and offer comprehensive benefits. The ACA created new requirements that insurers provide essential benefits, like preventive screenings and prescription drugs, and it also limited out-of-pocket costs for consumers by banning annual and lifetime caps on the amount of care they can receive.

In addition, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has provided health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who were previously uninsured. However, the ACA is at risk in Congress because House Republicans are pushing to repeal the law and Medicaid expansions across the country. In Kentucky, if the ACA is fully repealed and Medicaid expansion and subsidies on the health insurance exchange end, 86,000 people will lose coverage.


The state of Kentucky, under Governor Beshear, has a track record for achieving one of the largest declines in the uninsured rate among Americans under the Affordable Care Act. The declines in uninsurance rates primarily resulted from premium subsidies, protections for people with pre-existing conditions and Medicaid expansion.

Kentuckians who enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace, kynect, received generous financial assistance to help pay for their premiums. They were able to purchase health plans that covered a standard set of benefits, including hospitalization, prescription drugs and preventive services.

During open enrollment, kynect officials and assisters conducted outreach across diverse channels to inform individuals about the coverage options available to them. They also hosted informational booths at events, such as the state fair, where large numbers of people gather.

Although the state achieved significant reductions in the rates of uninsurance, coverage disparities remain. For example, Black Kentuckians who enrolled in ACA-compliant private plans continue to be more likely to remain uninsured than White Kentuckians.


Taxes associated with obamacare have impacted people’s financial lives. They include a tax on health insurance premiums that lowers the after-tax cost of employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), which is worth more to taxpayers in higher income brackets than to those in lower ones.

Those who pay these taxes should consult a tax expert to determine whether they are eligible for any refunds or other benefits. They should also keep in mind that the 2% provider tax on physicians and other providers has been upheld by federal courts, so it will continue to be levied.

While tax reform may be necessary, lawmakers should not cut critical public support programs and revenue in a way that disincentives low-income families, people of color, and communities with a legacy of policy disinvestment from the opportunities they need to succeed. Instead, they should protect and invest in policies that build opportunity, enhance racial equity, and strengthen the state’s economy. By doing so, they can make Kentucky a place that works for everyone.


Kentucky residents with pre-existing conditions can find health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since ACA insurers aren’t allowed to deny coverage or charge high premiums for pre-existing medical conditions, it’s an excellent option for those who need access to affordable insurance.

In addition to offering Medicaid to nearly a quarter million low-income residents, obamacare kentucky also provides subsidized insurance through the state’s healthcare exchange. The state’s kynect website allows individuals to shop for plans, compare and select their preferred plan and learn more about the benefits offered by different plans.

While Kentucky had a relatively slow rollout of its ACA marketplace, the state’s experience demonstrates that the ACA can be a success. A number of key factors contributed to the system’s success, including a high-functioning integrated eligibility system that was able to make real-time determinations and a comprehensive outreach and marketing campaign.

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About the Author: Raymond Donovan