Most Kentuckians choose nonprofit for insurance

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Nonprofit health insurance cooperatives across the country have struggled to stay competitive with their bigger, for-profit counterparts - but not in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s lone health care cooperative - buoyed by a $58.8 million federal loan - has sold 77 percent of the private health insurance plans purchased through kynect, Kentucky’s state-run health insurance marketplace.

CEO Janie Miller credited kynect for their success, saying the state-run website has been immune from the technical glitches that have slowed enrollments through the federal website.

“It became a great neutralizer for us as a new entry into the market, because it was working,” Miller said.

Through March 31, 77,027 people have purchased private health insurance through kynect. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only other company to offer health insurance plans statewide through kynect, sold 12 percent of the plans, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

An Anthem spokeswoman said the company has seen an increase in health insurance applications, both on and off the exchange, in the past few weeks, but did not have final numbers.

Carrie Banahan, kynect’s executive director, said Kentucky is unique in that it has a much smaller insurance market than other states. She said the cooperative, because it is a nonprofit, was able to keep prices lower for consumers.

“This has provided Kentuckians another choice,” she said. “You can attribute their success to their prices. In a lot of situations, their prices were lower than the other insurer and they had a more robust network, also.”

Overall, more than 370,000 people have signed up for health insurance through kynect. More than 293,000 of those people have signed up for Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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