FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Steve Beshear predicted Wednesday that Kentucky’s new health benefit exchange will provide an overdue dose of preventive care to ease the state’s chronic health problems, as he announced plans to publicize efforts to steer more than 600,000 uninsured people toward health coverage.
The exchange, an outgrowth of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), will curtail a common practice among many Kentuckians to skip check-ups, go without needed medication or rely on emergency rooms to treat ailments, Beshear said.
Lack of early care is one reason Kentucky’s “health picture is so horrendous,” with its dismal national rankings in preventable hospitalizations, cancer and heart disease rates and premature deaths, he said.
Kentucky’s health woes hurt productivity, student performance and even the state’s image, the governor said.
By extending coverage, one expected outcome is that more people will undergo routine exams that detect early symptoms of serious health problems, Beshear said. The result will be a healthier population and less costly health care system.
“When this all comes together over this next generation of Kentuckians, you’re going to see a sea change in terms of quality of life here in this state,” Beshear told reporters at the Capitol.
Beshear created the state exchange by executive order last summer to help uninsured Kentuckians get coverage. Many of those will also get help paying their premiums through the exchange.
Now one of the tasks is to make sure the targeted population knows about the exchange leading up to the enrollment period.
The exchange is run by the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange. In coming months, exchange staff will attend community events, start a toll-free hotline and add information to the exchange website, Beshear said.
The efforts will be backed by an advertising campaign.
“We want everybody to know a healthier future for Kentucky is on the way, and where to go to apply when open enrollment arrives,” he said.
The exchange is expected to help about 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians get coverage through private insurance plans or Medicaid and the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The website is supposed to make picking health insurance similar to buying an airline ticket from an online travel site.