Finding and Filling the Gaps: Making Health Insurance Affordable for All Kansans
The status of health insurance in the state and the needs of the uninsured have been the focus of several studies performed at the direction of the Kansas Insurance Department. From 2000 to 2005, thousands of residents were surveyed, several focus groups were convened, statewide public meetings were held, and hundreds of interviews were conducted – all in an effort to paint a global picture of health insurance in Kansas.
Commissioner Sandy Praeger has been at the forefront of these studies since their inception, first as a member of the steering committee to oversee the first planning grant, and then by continuing and expanding the project following her election to the office of Insurance Commissioner in 2002. She remains committed to finding ways of making health insurance available and affordable for all Kansas residents.
Kansas Health Insurance Study (2000-2001)
In 2000, Kansas was one of the first states to be awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) State Planning Grant to gather state specific information about the uninsured in our state.
Voices of the Uninsured (2001)
As a second component of the Kansas 2000 HRSA State Planning Grant, a qualitative research study was undertaken to gain a comprehensive picture of factors affecting uninsured Kansans and their ideas for solving the problems faced by the uninsured in the state.
Small Business Health Insurance Survey (2003)
The state of Kansas was awarded State Planning Grant (SPG) supplemental funds in 2003 to gather data on the choices and challenges facing small businesses as they struggle to offer health insurance benefits to their employees. Survey respondents were asked about their decisions to offer health insurance benefits or not, the structure and cost of benefits offered, and the economic impact these benefits may have had on the businesses.
Health Insurance Subsidies Study (2004-2005)
Later in 2004, the state received funding from the Commonwealth Fund in an effort to model the impact of various subsidy levels on a specific health benefit package. The information led to a sliding scale subsidy schedule which was developed for low-wage workers employed by small firms who might attain health insurance through the Business Health Policy Committee.
Individually-Purchased Insurance Coverage Survey (2005-2006)
Additional State Planning Grant supplemental funds were awarded in 2005 to conduct a survey of Kansans who purchased health insurance on the individual market in 2001. The survey was designed to learn more about the experiences of those who had purchased health insurance coverage individually and to get their opinion about initiatives that might make coverage more available to uninsured Kansans.
Reinsurance and State Health Reform: The Role of Reinsurance as a Public Policy Tool in Kansas (2007)
Reinsurance, or "insurance for insurance companies," is increasingly viewed as a mechanism to make health insurance coverage more affordable and reduce the number of uninsured. In a traditional insurance relationship, individuals purchase insurance coverage to protect themselves from financial risk and loss due to illness or accident. By doing this, these individuals transfer risk from themselves to an insurance company.
Praeger Presentation at State of the State Kansas Economic Policy Conference (2008)
In October 2008, Commissioner Praeger gave the keynote speech at the State of the State Kansas Economic Policy Conference, which had a theme of "Insuring a Health Kansas." Her topic was "Access to Health Insurance in Kansas and Across the Nation."
The Future of Health Insurance in Kansas
Commissioner Praeger strongly believes that the continued health of Kansas residents – and indeed the health of the state as a whole – depends on finding ways to make sure that insurance coverage is affordable and available to all. These ground-breaking studies provide a snapshot of the status of health insurance in the state and provide a glimpse of how the state may achieve the goal of reducing the number of uninsured Kansans.