Kentuckians have until tomorrow (Thursday) to sign up for subsidized health insurance on the federal exchange in order for their benefits to go into effect by the start of the new year.
The open enrollment period for health insurance on state and federal marketplaces, products of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, ends January 31, but the December 15 deadline ensures no gaps in service, which the law prohibits through tax penalties.
It’s been a turbulent year for the health insurance industry both in Kentucky and nationally. Gov. Matt Bevin kept true to a campaign promise and unplugged the commonwealth’s statebased exchange, kynect, favoring the federal marketplace. He’s also threatened to reverse the state’s Medicaid expansion population if his proposed low-income coverage changes aren’t approved by the federal government. Plus, shoppers have found fewer and more expensive options on that exchange, after several companies left the subsidized insurance market, citing financial losses.
Meanwhile, top GOP officials and President-elect Donald Trump say they will undo the Affordable Care Act altogether when they take control of the country’s legislative and executive branches next month. In addition to requiring health insurance for all Americans, the measure was responsible for creating the federal insurance marketplace as well as Medicaid expansions in multiple states. It’s unclear what, if anything would replace them.
State officials are still urging people to sign up for health insurance. Any coverage changes are unlikely to go into effect next year, so penalties could still be levied for the uninsured.
More than 20,000 Kentuckians have already signed up on HealthCare. gov, according to a report from the Cabinet for Health and Family Resources. With proof of income, Social Security numbers, names of members in a family household and their birth dates, anyone can sign up for coverage through the web portal. Subsidized insurance is for people who are not covered by their employer or whose coverage lacks federal minimum requirements. Medicaid recipients can sign up for benefits through HealthCare.gov, too .
In 2014, more than 21,000 people signed up for insurance in the last three days of the enrollment period, according to cabinet officials.