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Kentucky Extends Health Insurance Enrollment to Avoid Tax Penalties

Greg Stotelmyer

Unlike some states, Kentucky has embraced the Affordable Care Act, along with expanding Medicaid and aggressively pushing the state-based health insurance exchange Kynect. The commonwealth has also opened a special enrollment period through April 30.

In a message to Kentuckians without insurance, Governor Steve Beshear says it will give them another chance to avoid possible tax penalties.

"Some Kentuckians may not have realized that not obtaining health coverage could mean significant tax penalties," says Beshear.

Residents who don't have health care coverage in 2015 will pay the higher of two amounts: two percent of household income, or $325 per adult. According to Beshear, the percentage of uninsured Kentuckians dropped from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 9.8 percent last year, moving Kentucky up from 40th to 11th in the nation.

Rob Jones, executive director of the poverty fighting network Community Action Kentucky, says the "biggest surprise" is that demand for the state-based health exchange has not fallen off in the second year.

"When you consider you have people in the low-income community that move in and out of various income brackets across the year," says Jones, "the demand does not seem to be dwindling."

Community Action Kentucky is among the agencies that supplies trained helpers, known as "kynectors," who facilitate enrollment in the state-based health exchange. Jones says the agency has enrolled roughly 34,000 people this fiscal year.

According to Jones, low-income Kentuckians who do not qualify for Medicaid should realize they can still get a subsidy to help cover the cost of their health insurance premium.

"This is what makes plans affordable for lower-income people," he says, "that might otherwise have found insurance to be out of reach financially."

For more information, log on to: http://kynect.ky.gov or call 1-855-4-KYNECT, or 1-855-459-6328.

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