A new report suggests implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Kentucky has had a positive impact on increasing health insurance coverage for children. The issue brief shows that the uninsurance rate for Kentucky children dropped to 4.3% in 2014, which means more than 16,000 kids gained coverage in the first year of the ACA. Data also reveal more than ten percent of private insurance purchased on the kynect marketplace was for children. Both the overall increase in children who are insured and the portion of state marketplace (kynect) plans that cover children are much higher than the national averages.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has contracted with State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), a health policy research institute at the University of Minnesota, to study how ACA implementation is impacting Kentuckians. While the multi-year study focuses on adults, this issue brief compiled by SHADAC provides initial data on ACA impact on children in the Commonwealth.
Researchers focused on main actions likely to have the largest effect on children’s coverage. Highlights include:
- kynect Financial Assistance for Families: Children and adults whose incomes are too high to qualify for public insurance programs (Medicaid and K-CHIP), but who cannot afford the full cost of private health insurance, can receive financial assistance for buying private health insurance through the health insurance marketplace, kynect.
- Increased Enrollment of Eligible Children: More children who were already eligible for Medicaid but who were not enrolled have obtained coverage through the program since ACA implementation. Research suggests this increased enrollment may have come from increased awareness and outreach efforts, and parents enrolling their children in coverage when they themselves enroll.
The report goes on to indicate increases in coverage “may have been further bolstered by the state’s extensive efforts at outreach and promotion for kynect,” and concludes by stating “as more Kentucky children obtain health coverage, it will be important to monitor whether and how those gains effect improvements in access to health care services and, ultimately, the overall health of Kentucky’s children.”
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has invested in this multi-year research effort, notes Foundation CEO Susan Zepeda, to give Kentucky policymakers an independent assessment of the impacts of Medicaid expansion and kynect on costs of care, access and patients’ experience.
The full issue brief is available by clicking this link.