Self-Employed Kentuckians Say They Don't See Benefits of Affordable Care Act

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People have been signing up for new health coverage since Kentucky's online health insurance exchange launched Tuesday.

While many of the 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians are seeing the benefits of the changes, some self-employed people in Bowling Green said they don't see personal benefits.

"Right now, from what I've seen, I haven't had anything that's been an advantage for me. It's probably helping other people -- which is great," said a self-employed real estate agent, Mark Tyree. "But there's some people that fall through the cracks in any system, and I'm probably going to be that one for a long time."

He said, in his 58 years, he's never had health insurance. He also said he will probably end up paying the $95 fine to avoid the high monthly cost of insurance.

"All I can do is just make less money in order to make it beneficial for me or make enough money that where $700 a month doesn't make any difference to me, and that's not happening," Tyree said.

He said paying on his own as needed has been working just fine for him -- even with his health issues.

Staci Simpson, who is a Kentucky Farm Bureau agent, and her husband are also self-employed, and their plan with Anthem will have to change.

She said medical visits outside Kentucky won't be included in the new plans.

"My son had two instances where we unexpectedly had to have care, and one of those was a burn and we were taken to Vanderbilt, so that would be an issue," Simpson said.

Whatever plan she chooses, she said her current $500 premium could double.

"The wealthy people can afford it. Your lower income people are going to get it for free now or close to free. So then you've got that middle income that's taking the hit," Simpson said.

Both Tyree and Simpson agree that many people are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, but there just aren't enough clear answers at this point to know what to expect with the changes.

Governor Steve Beshear's office said four out of five Kentuckians who use Kynect are expected to qualify for financial assistance that would help cover part of their healthcare costs.

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