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Say Goodbye To Kynect, Hello To Benefind

benefind.ky.gov / kynect.ky.gov

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has launched a new website, Benefind, for Assistance Programs.

Media outlets report that the service launched Wednesday. Benefind can be used to apply for Medicaid, the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program and Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program. Those applying for SNAP and KTAP are required to complete an interview with the Department of Community Based Services to receive assistance.

Residents can also use the website to renew benefits, check benefit amounts, report changes, upload verification documents, check claim status, make claim payments and receive electronic notices.

Benefind replaces kynect, the state health insurance exchange, as the portal to enroll in some of the state's assistance programs. Gov. Matt Bevin has plans to dismantle kynect by the end of the year.

Costs and Benefits

Once all is said and done, state health officials estimate dismantling the health insurance exchange set up under former Gov. Steve Beshear will save the state $12 to $25 million annually. The figure stands in stark contrast to previous administration warnings that decommissioning kynect could translate to a whopping $23 million bill.

In total, officials project that IT costs will amount to roughly $1.6 million, but shifting some of the operations to the federal government will defray $1.3 million worth. Once all savings are factored in, Glisson anticipates paying only $236,000 to scrap kynect.

Speaking before a House budget subcommittee Wednesday, state Health and Family Services Cabinet head Vickie Yates Brown Glisson predicted no interruptions for those already signed up for Medicaid through the existing online portal as the state transitions to the new hybrid setup.

"All of the information about those individuals, if they were already in the system, will now be downloaded into Benefind, so they don't have to re-enroll or go through any additional steps," she said. "It should be seamless."

Meanwhile, those renewing or signing up for qualified health plans would be shuttled to healthcare.gov.

Under the plan some responsibilities, including the handling of carrier grievances and some call center duties, would remain with the state while others, such as final health plan certification and consumer complaints, land in the federal government's lap.

Democrats on the panel expressed skepticism that the new system could deliver service comparable with kynect, which has been singled out as a model for state-based exchanges. Representatives with Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, Clover Fork Clinic, and Health Point Family Care testified to the strengths of the kynect model, telling legislators expansions instituted under the Affordable Care Act have resulted in increased access to services, reduced co-pays, and a surge in employment.

Also singled out for praise were state agents known as "kynectors," who help subscribers navigate their insurance options. Providers said service could suffer if the facilitators are outsourced or eliminated.

Bevin administration officials calculate kynect has cost the state $330 million since its inception.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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