Washington County residents among the lowest in health insurance ratings

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24 percent don't have health insurance

By Geoff Hamill

It’s a good thing Washington County was recently named as the seventh healthiest county in Kentucky, because statistics released about adults with health insurance in the state show that Washington County comes up near the bottom of that list.
According to numbers released on April 5 by the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, 24 percent of Washington County adults don’t have health insurance. The county is tied for the fifth worst rate of uninsured adults in the state. The worst rate is 28 percent, which is shared by Calloway and Carlisle counties.
The study was conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, and is jointly funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. The KHIP includes several questions regarding health insurance coverage that help paint the picture of the insurance status of Kentucky adults. The survey focused on Kentucky adults ranging in age from 18 to 64, since nearly all adults over 65 (94 percent) are insured.
If you are uninsured, there are options to obtain health coverage. Gwenda Bond, a spokesperson with Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Medicaid is the first option to explore.
“If you are uninsured and think you may be eligible, it is best to visit your local Department for Community Based Services office,” Bond said.
Medicaid eligibility is based on income, but there are other factors that could affect someone’s eligibility, according to Bond. She said family size and other factors can also play a role in determining if a person qualifies, and even if you don’t meet the income chart requirements found on the CHFS website (www.chfs.ky.gov) you could still be able to receive Medicaid benefits.
“You can visit your Division of Community Based Services office to find out if you qualify for Medicaid, and even if you don’t, there are other services available from local health departments,” Bond said.
She added that other programs can also provide assistance. One of those is the Kentucky Physicians Care Program, which is made up of physicians and dentists who donate their time and materials to provide free, one-time routine care to low income and uninsured citizens across the state. Pharmacies also participate in the program, donating prescription medications from four major pharmaceutical providers.
Chris Workman, branch manager for the health care access branch of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the pharmaceutical program is very interesting because of new rules that will provide benefits to an even wider range of people. He said the changes, which are expected to be in effect on or before July 1, will allow people who earn as much as 400 percent above the state’s poverty level to participate. Currently, the poverty level for a family of four is $22,350, according to numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Workman said when it comes to physician and dental services, the Kentucky Physicians Care Program typically covers those who are 100 percent of the poverty level.
No Washington County pharmacies participate in the program, according to Workman, although he said there are three in Marion County, including Kroger, which is the largest in the state to take part. He added that any participating pharmacy will take prescriptions from any patient approved by Kentucky Physicians Care.
Workman added that to take part in the pharmaceutical portion of the program, it is not necessary to get a prescription from a Kentucky Physicians Care doctor. He said patients can see their own doctor, and as long as they meet qualifications, can still get the benefits of the program’s prescription coverage.
Bond and Workman both said enrolling in the Kentucky Physicians Care is done through each county’s local Division of Community Based Services Office, which will assist them in getting started. For more information, contact the local Community Based Services Office at (859) 336-3977, or stop by the office at 803 Bel Vista Drive in Springfield. Hours are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.