HAZARD—On the third day of the open enrollment for Kentucky’s health care exchange, it seems local residents still have just as many unanswered questions as they did a few months ago.
Hazard resident Leah Stone tried Tuesday morning to access the website for kynect, Kentucky’s health benefits exchange (HBE), to browse through some of the options she and her family may have with the new health care laws.
“I was just trying to get on there and look and research and I really didn’t have much luck,” Stone said. “I mean, I didn’t have a problem getting on the website, I just didn’t have much luck getting my questions answered.”
Glitches and long load times were reported by users of the site on Oct. 1, the first day for open enrollment. According to the Associated Press, there have been no new issues reported since the glitches were fixed on Tuesday by adding processing power to computers and two more servers to the site.
Stone, who lives with her husband two sons, said she is not sure what to expect when she does get to enroll because of her family’s situation.
“I’m not going to make any quick decisions, but I would have liked to have been able to have gotten on there and read about it and I didn’t have any luck doing that,” she said.
Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson said on Tuesday that there was no need to rush into the process. With citizens having six months, or until March 2014, to enroll in a plan, everyone should take the time to shop around and make sure all of their questions are answered by professionals first before they form an opinion or make a decision.
“We’re just trying to carry the message out that now’s the time to check, enrollment is beginning, thousands of Kentuckians have already engaged,” Abramson said at a kynect kickoff held at the Hazard ARH. “When we look back in history, we’ll remember October 1 as when over 650,000 Kentuckians will begin to enroll and will look forward to having for the first time insurance for themselves and for their families.”
And while Stone said she does not lack faith in the HBE, she still needs her questions answered before she can make any kind of decisions.
“I’m going to be patient, I’m going to wait and see. I’m not going to panic just because they’ve got a few glitches going in,” she said.
Last month, multiple agencies and organizations began to prepare for the open enrollment by having members of their staffs trained on the process. Millie Dee Stevens said she and Krystal Brown were currently the only two “kynectors” in Perry County certified to assist people with the HBE and answer any questions they may have about kynect.
“We’ll be out in the community doing outreach programs where we’ll be able to help,” Stevens said. “We’ll have a laptop with us where we can do pre-applications, and in that pre-application form they can get an instant response as to what program, where they fall in the income guidelines.”
Stevens added that she and Brown will also be available at their office at the Little Flower Free Clinic in Hazard.
“We can’t recommend or suggest, but we can help them enroll. Basically what we will do is we will talk to them about what options are available to them and what each plan includes and then they have to decide from there,” she said.
Two insurance companies offer four levels of coverage — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum — based on premium costs and co-pays, Abramson said. Another option for coverage that has not been widely reported on is the catastrophic insurance.
“For all you under-30-year-old, we call you the invincibles because you think nothing can touch you,” Abramson said.
For those individuals under 30 who can’t find coverage for less than 8 percent of their income, and who want to avoid the penalty of not having insurance come March 2014 but feel like they do not need much coverage, the catastrophic plan is the cheapest and still covers essential and preventative health care.
Stone said she is going to remain optomistic and continue trying to have her questions answered.
“I’m going to wait a few days and talk to some of the specialists and ask my questions and then go back on there and see what we’re qualified for and if we’re going to go that route,” she said.