Beth Moore didn’t plan on becoming an Affordable Care Act “success story,” but she said Tuesday she dodged catastrophe in the form of more than $30,000 in medical bills due to health coverage obtained earlier this year through kynect.
Moore, of Louisville, became a self-employed behavior analyst in January and signed up for insurance through Kentucky’s health benefit exchange. During a trip to Texas two months later, she went to the emergency room and had to have her appendix removed. She contracted pneumonia during her recovery, sending her to the University of Louisville Hospital for three additional days.
Her medical expenses thus far have totaled more than $30,000, and all but $150 has been paid through her insurer, she said.
“It’s worked very well and I’m very grateful that I am a resident in Kentucky and that this was an option for me because it’s made a big difference for me, missing three weeks of work with no disability insurance,” Moore said at a Capitol press conference Tuesday. “If I hadn’t had health insurance, I’m not sure where I would be right now.”
Moore was one of two Kentuckians whom Gov. Steve Beshear cited as triumphs in the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act, both in establishing the state-based benefit exchange, kynect, and expanding Medicaid eligibility.
As the first round of open enrollment closed April 15, 413,410 residents had registered for coverage through kynect — 82,795 in private insurance plans and 330,615 in Medicaid. Beshear expects the overall figure to rise as paper applications are processed.
Beshear said 75 percent of those who enrolled in health plans had no insurance beforehand, and the increase in insured Kentuckians would improve the state’s dismal health rankings.
“From the beginning, I knew that kynect would change the course of Kentucky’s history by helping hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families, and I never wavered in my support,” Beshear said. “… We’re going to keep enrolling people until everybody in Kentucky who needs health coverage has it.”
The Democratic governor is an outlier among southern leaders, embracing both voluntary aspects of the Affordable Care Act — establishing a state-based benefit exchange and expanding Medicaid eligibility — despite criticism from conservatives.
“I would question a lot of these numbers,” said Nicholasville tea party activist David Adams, who is appealing a Franklin Circuit Court ruling against his lawsuit questioning Beshear’s executive orders establishing kynect and expanding Medicaid. “… It’s funny that they dug around the state for two people to come in here and talk and couldn’t find anybody that didn’t have prior coverage.”
As more Kentuckians become accustomed to the Affordable Care Act and its benefits, Beshear contends, the less likely the federal health care law will sway voters once the midterm elections arrive in November.
“Obviously last November there were tons of misinformation being put out by its critics, and nobody really understood it or knew how it was going to affect them,” Beshear said. “People are now realizing whether it will affect them and if so, how, and come this coming November, the 80 percent of Americans and Kentuckians who the Affordable Care Act will not affect at all are going to know that it doesn’t affect them, and so for them, it’s not going to be a big issue one way or the other.
“The 20 percent that are affected in the United States and Kentucky, a lot of them — just like this 413,000 and more by the end of this year — are going to know how it affects them, and they like what they’re getting.”
Still, there has been a shift in rhetoric as election season nears. Behind a contentious race for U.S. Senate, the battle over control of the Democrat-led House of Representatives looms large in Kentucky. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has taken to calling kynect “Beshearcare” recently.
Is that a political ploy, to distance Kentucky Democrats vying to maintain a majority in the lower chamber from an unpopular president, at least in this state, and the health care law that more often than not bears his namesake, Obamacare?
Beshear shrugged off that question when asked Tuesday, though he readily accepted his administration’s role in expanding health care opportunities in Kentucky.
“I’m excited about what we’ve done and what we’re doing, and I’m excited because the people of Kentucky are going to be beneficiaries of it,” he said.