Health Care,  Stateside

Obamacare Kentucky watch

The last time I posted about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)– in November, when things weren’t looking good and Republicans were gleeful– I advised a laser-like focus on the State of Kentucky.

I chose Kentucky for two reasons:

1. Kentucky is a Republican-leaning “red state” which sent anti-“big government” Rand Paul to the US Senate in 2010 and voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by 22 percentage points in 2012.

2. Unlike virtually ever other red state, Kentucky has fully implemented the ACA, setting up its own health insurance exchange and agreeing to expansion of Medicaid for low-income residents.

To bring you up to date:

As of March 31, more than 370,000 Kentuckians had signed up for health insurance through the ACA: 293,802 in the expanded Medicaid program and 77,027 in subsidized private insurance plans.

About 75 percent of these Kentuckians were previously uninsured.

When ACA enrollment began in October, state officials estimated there were 640,000 uninsured in Kentucky.

This mean that more than 40 percent of Kentuckians who previously were uninsured now have health insurance– even if up to 20 percent of those who signed up for private insurance have not paid their premiums.

Of course there have been problems with implementation of the ACA, and there are sure to be more. One of the shortcomings of the law is that it doesn’t cover 100 percent of the uninsured, as a single-payer system would. But I refuse to believe that a program which is enabling hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians to get needed medical treatment they couldn’t previously afford is a thoroughly Bad Thing.