Kentucky’s health benefit exchange has been lauded by state government leaders as a success story of the Affordable Care Act. Named kynect, the exchange has now provided health insurance to thousands of residents. And it has also drawn a measure of controversy.
The political implications surrounding kynect and the Affordable Care Act continue, but the impact on Kentucky’s patients, nurses, doctors and hospitals has been significant. Kynect has completed two enrollment periods and is offering open enrollment from November 1, 2015, to January 31, 2016. How has kynect worked and what benefits has it offered?
The Affordable Care Act focused on giving 3.8 million Americans without health insurance the ability to become insured. While health benefit exchanges were created by the federal government and some states, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and his administration elected to develop a state-based exchange to make the process easier for Kentuckians — and kynect was born.
In Kentucky and nationally, kynect generated attention for its ability to seamlessly implement the Affordable Care Act well. News outlets such as The New York Times and Fortune magazine declared it a success. And as a result of kynect’s well-organized interface and strong marketing campaign, it enrolled more than 413,000 applicants during the first enrollment period ending in March 2014. Approximately 75 percent of those previously lacked health insurance.
Impact on Providers
Kynect is helping healthcare providers reach more patients than ever. Not only do the uninsured have easier access to healthcare, but those who were discriminated against due to a pre-existing condition can now obtain or afford health insurance.
Nurses and doctors should see a higher volume of patients, although there are no concrete numbers to analyze at this stage. This could exacerbate the current and anticipated shortage of nurses and physicians, in turn adding to the need for qualified healthcare professionals.
The Affordable Care Act also sought to improve the quality of care in hospitals. New laws withhold Medicare payments from hospitals that have too many patients returning with specific ailments. As this can help prevent hospitals from sending patients home too early and improve the quality of postsurgical treatment, hospitals should respond accordingly.
Kynect has helped the state healthcare system. And as a result, more nurses, doctors and healthcare administrators are needed to serve Kentuckians. They will have a hand in improving the overall well-being of Kentucky and the nation.
Campbellsville University is meeting this demand through its RN to BSN program, which is offered fully online to nurses looking to improve quality of care and expand their career opportunities.
Brian Neese is with Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky.