FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Steve Beshear painted a rosy picture Tuesday of health insurance coverage that will be available in January, boasting that four out of five Kentuckians will qualify for discounts that will allow them to purchase policies for as little as $47 a month.
Such an inexpensive policy, however, would come with a $12,600 annual deductible that would have to be reached before insurance companies would begin paying medical bills.
Beshear released the most detailed information to date at a Capitol news conference about coverage that will be available through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, an online resource to help people get coverage. People can begin enrolling on Oct. 1 for policies that will take effect in January.
A staunch advocate for the Affordable Care Act, Beshear said some 640,000 insured Kentuckians will be able to obtain coverage. Nearly half of those will be added to the state's Medicaid program. The remainder will be able to get insurance through the health benefit exchange in a move that the Democratic governor described as life-changing for them.
"They roll the dice every day and just hope and pray that they don't get sick," Beshear said. "They put off doctor's appointments hoping a condition turns out to be nothing. And they live knowing that bankruptcy is just one bad diagnosis away."
Beshear created the state health benefit exchange by executive order last year. Kentucky has received more than $250 million from the federal government to set it up. He said the exchange will help the one out of six Kentuckians currently without insurance to get coverage, which will be available to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions.
Beshear urged people to begin reviewing coverage available through the exchange at www.kynect.com . The process, he said, is simple, requiring them to key in their ages, addresses, household incomes and whether they use tobacco to determine prices and available discounts.
Beshear said individuals earning up to $45,960 a year will qualify for discounts, as will families of four with income up to $94,200 a year. He said they can also choose from several coverage options with differing monthly premiums.
The plans, Beshear said, require higher out-of-pocket costs to keep the monthly premiums low.
A 22-year-old single college student making $20,000 a year could purchase insurance for $51 per month, Beshear said. And, he said, a family of four with income of $70,000 a year could get coverage for $403 a month.
"There's been a lot of fear-mongering about costs of health insurance after the Affordable Care Act, but it's clear that with the kynect discounts, health insurance will be more affordable than ever before to Kentuckians who need it most," Beshear said.