Fewer Kentuckians enrolled in federally subsidized health plans for 2023

Published 10:20 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

Fewer Kentuckians signed up for a government-subsidized health plan on Kynect, the state-based marketplace, in 2023 than in the previous two years, likely because more of them qualified for Medicaid during the pandemic and were still covered by it.

The final Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 2023 open enrollment report shows 62,562 Kentuckians signed up for health insurance on Kynect through Jan. 15, which was the last day to enroll.  That’s a 15% drop from 73,935 in 2022 and a 19% drop from 77,821 in 2021, according to last year’s report.

“Our best guess is that more Kentuckians are currently covered by Medicaid right now because of the continuous-eligibility provision that’s been in place during the pandemic,” Emily Beauregard, executive director at Kentucky Voices for Health, said in an email. “When renewals begin this spring, we expect some Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid to move” to a private but federally subsidized Qualified Health Plan.

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Beauregard referred to the end of a federal program that kept people continuously enrolled on Medicaid during the pandemic without the need to re-enroll and certify their incomes to qualify. This program will end March 31, under an end-of-year omnibus law that requires Medicaid agencies to restart their annual renewal process. This process has been dubbed “Medicaid unwinding.”

At a Jan. 12 state Senate and House Joint Health Services Committee meeting, Veronica Judy-Cecil, senior deputy commissioner of the state Department for Medicaid Services, gave a snapshot of how many Kentuckians this will affect.

She said the state estimates that of the 1.7 million Kentuckians on Medicaid, 243,368, about 14%, will lose eligibility during the unwinding. Slides presented at Beshear’s Feb. 2 news conference indicated that the estimated number of people impacted by the unwinding has gone up to 260,000.

Of that group, an estimated 85,400 have incomes over 138% of the federal poverty level, the Medicaid limit, and will qualify for a qualified health plan with federal tax credits through Kynect.

Private insurance plans purchased on Kynect offer significant tax subsidies to offset insurance costs for people earning between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, or between $13,590 and $54,360 for an individual. About 80% of enrollees nationwide qualify for subsidies that reduce their monthly payments to less than $10, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.