Policy Institute: Kentucky's 80K Obamacare Enrollees Acquired at More Than $3K Each

May 14, 2014

Credit kynect.ky.gov

A public policy analyst says Kentucky spent thousands in taxpayer dollars to acquire each enrollee on the commonwealth's health insurance marketplace.

Gov. Steve Beshear and President Barack Obama have been touting the success of Kentucky's implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and of the health exchange platform kynect. But Illinois Policy Institute health policy director Naomi Lopez Bauman, writing in a syndicated op-ed released this week, says Kentucky has received “quite a bit more money” from the federal government than some other states in order to get people signed up.

“Under the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky for private insurance it’s about $3,000,” Bauman said. “Now, what we don’t know is how many of those individuals are going to pay the second month and the third month premium. So I think that number may go up a bit.”

Bauman used federal appropriations for marketing and outreach coupled with the cost of building a state exchange website to arrive at her conclusion. Bauman's assessment assigns that cost only to private insurance enrollees - not the more than 322,000 people that signed up for expanded Medicaid. Around 80,000 people have purchased private insurance.

By comparison, the average cost per enrollee in Illinois was $800-1,600. In Missouri, the cost was $281-342 per enrollee, according to Bauman.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Gwenda Bond said her cabinet was unfamiliar with Bauman’s findings, but that the cabinet is “very proud” of kynect's success. 

"We believe that the ACA will help transform the state’s health in the coming years and decades, creating a more cost effective system and better outcomes," Bond said via email.