By: Greg Stotelmyer Kentucky News Connection
September 18, 2013
LOUISVILLE - After months of debate and planning, open enrollment for insurance under the new national health care law is about to begin in Kentucky. Rollout of the state’s health insurance marketplace, known as “Kynect,” begins October 1. To help Kentuckians decide on their coverage options, AARP Kentucky is hosting a series of community events. According to Tihisha Rawlins, associate state director for grassroots initiatives, AARP-Kentucky, the goal is to connect consumers with those who can help them compare insurance plans and enroll.
“We are definitely seeing a lot of confusion, but we are also seeing a lot of people who want information; they’re hungry for it,” Rawlins said. “They want to know, ‘How can this law help me; can this help my family? What do we need to do?’”
The first community event is in Owensboro on the day enrollment begins (October 1). Others will be held over the next couple of months in Hazard, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, and Mt. Sterling. After the sign-up period, the actual insurance coverage is to start January 1.
While AARP is known as an advocacy group for seniors, Rawlins said the community events are designed to help younger people as well.
“We’re trying to reach all of those individuals who are currently uninsured, shopping in the private marketplace on their own, trying to find coverage that they can afford,” she said. “So, we are actually casting a wide net to reach all of those 18 to 64.”
According to state figures, 640,000 Kentuckians are uninsured, about 15 percent of the state’s population.
Charlotte Whitaker, an AARP volunteer who is a member of ARRP Kentucky’s executive council, said the health-care law will help seniors who are not eligible yet for Medicare, those who either lost their jobs, work part-time or retired early, and have had a hard time finding insurance because of preexisting medical conditions.
“I visited a gentleman last week over in Muhlenberg County, and his wife is 64 with a heart condition, and he said for ten years, they’ve not been able to have insurance,” she recalled.
The AARP events will include demonstration of how to enroll online, with experts on hand to help people sign up for insurance coverage. Advance registration is required, on the AARP website, where a calendar of events is available.