Last week, Kentucky revived the online health-benefits portal ‘kynect.ky.gov’ as a one-stop shop for Kentuckians who need health insurance.
The new portal will also host the state-based health-insurance exchange known as Kynect, starting next year. Kynect allows people who don’t have work-based health insurance to enroll in a plan, or sign up for Medicaid if they qualify.
The program was dismantled in 2017 by then Gov. Matt Bevin. Cara Stewart, director for policy advocacy for Kentucky Voices for Health, called the restart a game-changer for helping families stay healthy and avoid medical debt as the pandemic stretches on.
“Since we’re in a global pandemic right now, it’s become even more clear that people need health coverage, and need health coverage options,” said Stewart. “And having one place where people can go is so much less confusing; it provides for a better consumer experience.”
The kynect relaunch is expected to save the state about $15 million a year.
People will be able to enroll in health coverage for 2022 starting next year. The portal will also include access to the national health-benefit exchange; the “KCHIP” program for children, and the Kentucky Integrated Health Insurance Premium Payment program.
Because of the state of emergency declared by the governor at the start of the pandemic, Stewart said beginning October 20, almost anyone — regardless of income — can apply for temporary Medicaid coverage using the online portal.
She said local assisters known as “kynectors” will be able to help with enrollment.
“Kynectors are still trusted members of people’s communities that are still out there, and they are going to be featured more prominently,” said Stewart. “Kynectors will be able to do even more for the people in their communities.”
Stewart added the website will also include support for job training, foster care, elder care and addiction, as well as resources for veterans with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, and for people experiencing homelessness.
“We’re also putting under Kynect now other benefits — like SNAP, childcare assistance, financial aid for children and caregivers, and more,” said Stewart.
People can use the portal to track the progress of their application, and see next steps after it’s completed. They’ll also be able snap photos of any documents with a smartphone and upload them to the site.