HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The federal government may have shut down, but that did not stop the beginning of open enrollment on state healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson was in Hazard Tuesday promoting kynect, Kentucky's online health insurance marketplace.
Kynect went online at 12 a.m. Tuesday, and at last check the site had been visited nearly 78-thousand times. There were so many hits at one point the site crashed for a while, but that problem has since been resolved.
The Lieutenant Governor made stops at Hazard ARH and at WYMT for a taping of "Issues & Answers;" at both he made the case for why he thinks Obamacare is good for Kentucky.
The lieutenant governor outlined the new service, which lets Kentucky's 640,000 uninsured compare different health insurance plans and see if they qualify for programs like Medicaid and KCHIP, as well as rebates on insurance coverage.
Recent polling indicates the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular both in Kentucky and across the nation, but Abramson defended the law, saying it beats the alternative.
"The alternative in Perry County is 4,800 people don't have insurance. They wake up in the morning hoping they're not sick, hoping their child is not sick. That's the alternative," he said.
Despite concerns over the new federal healthcare law, local health officials say kynect will improve access to healthcare for folks living in Eastern Kentucky.
"I think it's going to be important for the folks in this community and this region where as you know our jobs have been so decimated in the mining world itself, to have access to what should be affordable healthcare," said ARH CEO Joe Grossman.
Abramson says the expanded coverage offered through kynect will be transformational for Kentucky.
"This gives us an opportunity because the healthier the Commonwealth, the better opportunities for jobs. People don't want to bring their businesses into Kentucky when they don't have a workforce that is prepared, educated and healthy."
Beginning January 1st of next year, most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Open enrollment continues through March 31st.
There is a lot more information available visiting kynect.ky.gov or by calling 1-855-4kynect.
The episode of Issues & Answers with Jerry Abramson will air in its entirety Monday, October 7th at 7 p.m.