Trump order will leave thousands of Kentuckians without insurance help

November 8, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Thousands of Kentuckians will no longer get help paying for their health insurance under an order President Donald Trump issued on Thursday.

The White House said it is halting subsidy payments to insurers under Obamacare. Those subsidies lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes. The President's action is expected to trigger a spike in premiums next year.

According to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, 41,209 Kentuckians who signed up for health care through the marketplace this year received subsidies. Another 62,987 received tax credits. The Foundation says those who received subsidies will lose the help. It's unclear how tax credits will be affected. In all, about 78.5% of Kentuckians who signed up for insurance through Obamacare received some type of payment assistance.

Dr. Aaron Yelowitz, an economist, and professor at the University of Kentucky says President Trump's action will cause copays to rise, but the biggest impact will be on deductibles.

"When you have really high medical expenses in a particular year, rather than paying, for example, a maximum amount of $3,000 out of pocket, you might pay $6,500 out of pocket," said Dr. Yelowitz.

Dr. Yelowitz says while the number of insured Kentuckians has grown thanks to changes in the law, some of them will not be affected by Thursday's order.

"A lot of the Kentuckians who gained insurance actually weren't gaining it through the health insurance marketplace. The gains in the last few years were around 80% in the Medicaid program."

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear joined with several other states on Friday to sue the Trump administration over the halting of subsidies. In the meantime, community organizations have started making plans to try and ease the pinch on Kentucky families.

"We are in the process of building up our partnerships to be able to have the resources to really fill in those gaps," said Meghan Travis with Nathaniel Mission.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Department of Health and Human Services said the payments will cease immediately. In its own statement, the White House said it cannot continue to make the payments because they do not have formal authorization through Congress.