LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hundreds of people showed up to Jefferson Community & Technical College Tuesday to enroll in the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, called KYNECT, following the rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act.
"Now is the time to begin enrollment here in the Commonwealth for the Affordable Care Act," said Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson during a campus press conference. "October first is the date where we started it all to transform healthcare to provide comprehensive, affordable, and on top of all that, quality healthcare for over 650,000 Kentuckians who otherwise have no health insurance to provide for themselves and their families."
One by one, members of Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) began meeting with people who were uninsured and self-insured as well as those belonging to small businesses. The one-on-one sessions had been designed to help people sign up for KYNECT, but an overwhelming online response temporarily crashed the KYNECT website for those attempting to enroll at www.kynect.ky.gov.
Until the issue subsided, KYNECT assistants coined Kynectors went through pre-screenings will all guests interested in enrolling in the affordable health care.
"I just appreciate that this country is trying to move in the right direction," said Bennett Pruitt, 53, of Louisville. "I haven't had any healthcare in over ten years."
Pruitt sat through a pre-screening to enroll in KYNECT. Having relocated from Michigan where his family business did not include health insurance, the full-time JCTC student applauded the coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act.
"I think it's just good for the whole country," said Pruitt.
Not everyone in attendance at the KYNECT launch agreed.
"I know we've got issues with our healthcare and that's something that affects all of us. I don't think this is the answer," began Bishop Dan Johnson of Heart of Fire Church. "We have something that's been forced on the American people without a vote. That's taxation without representation. So, we're being forced to pay something."
Kentucky leaders maintained benefits with KYNECT outweigh any potential detriments, by connecting the Commonwealth's uninsured with healthcare so many people have gone long without.
"People need a hand up," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. "With accountability, we give it to them and healthcare is obviously one of those benefits."
According to Abramson, 16 percent or about 101,000 Jefferson County residents are living without health insurance. Under the new Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange called KYNECT, healthcare would include coverage for mental health and substance abuse care. KYNECT would also allow for subsidies, or decreased insurance payments for those that qualify.
"If you are a single person, subsidies are available to decrease your insurance payments up to an income level of $47,000 a year," said Abramson. "If you have a family of four, you literally can make up to $92,000 a year, annual income, and receive a subsidy."
While most in attendance at the JCTC press conference desired to enroll in KYNECT, many had questions.
"My income might get higher, maybe increase or decrease, began JCTC student Andriea Thomas, "would it change my premium?"
"You still would have it because now you have a policy that goes with you wherever you go," explained District 4 Councilman David Tandy. "Now you're a part of a larger pool of policy holders that are now on a national level so therefore if you were to leave your job from one place and go to another one you wouldn't have to worry about whether that employer provides insurance."
Tandy said under KYNECT, coverage would also apply throughout the United States, meaning if an insured person sustained illness or injury out of town, he or she would still be covered.
"The insurance that is available under the Affordable Care Act is no different than the insurance that you would have with any other private carrier," said Tandy. "If you're on vacation, or you're traveling to another state and let's say you get hurt or you get sick there, God forbid, then you will still be able to receive the healthcare and the health coverage that you would receive otherwise."
To learn more about KYNECT or to enroll, visit www.kynect.ky.gov or call 1-855-4kynect (459-6328).