If Kentucky shuts down Kynect, consumers will still have options

Even if Kentucky's Republican governor-elect Matt Bevin closes down the state's health insurance exchange, consumers there wouldn't necessarily feel negative effects right away, according to a National Public Radio report.

One of Bevin's campaign promises is to dismantle Kynet--the state-run health insurance exchange--a move that can't happen until 2017 because the Affordable Care Act requires a 12-month notice to the federal government to shut down a state's exchange.

It won't be the end of the world for consumers because they can still access plans on HealthCare.gov, analysts told NPR. "The federal exchange is a perfectly viable alternative," said Jon Kingsdale, a healthcare consultant.

Bevin, a Tea Party activist, was elected in early November and takes office Dec. 8. Despite the fact that Kynect has a high approval rating among Kentuckians and has helped the state's uninsured rate to drop from 20.4 percent to 9 percent, Bevin wants to shift people to the federal exchange.

The move would not be without consequences. Kentucky will have less control of insurance options for its citizens, as well as nonprofit groups providing consumer assistance, and the state's own call center would likely close, according to the report.

Thirteen states run their own insurance exchanges, and some are struggling with higher costs and lower-than-expected enrollments--causing them to consider turning over parts of their operations to the federal government or partnering with other states.

There's also concerns about how Bevin plans to deal with Medicaid, a program Kentucky expanded in 2014 under the ACA to cover an additional 425,000 people so far, according to a New York Times report. Bevin said early in his campaign that he would reverse Medicaid expansion, but more recently has said he will seek permission from the federal government to tighten eligibility and impose more rules and costs to those covered by the expansion, the report said.

To learn more:
- read the NPR report
- read the New York Times article