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She's a Helping Hand for Health Insurance

PHOTO: LeAnna Watson obtained health insurance coverage through kynect, the state's health insurance marketplace, and is now helping others sign up. Photo courtesy of LeAnna Watson.
PHOTO: LeAnna Watson obtained health insurance coverage through kynect, the state's health insurance marketplace, and is now helping others sign up. Photo courtesy of LeAnna Watson.
September 29, 2014

HARRODSBURG, Ky. - Cancer survivor LeAnna Watson shares her own story of having lived without health insurance as she now helps others enroll in Kentucky's health benefit exchange, known as "kynect." She's what's called a "kynector," one of nearly 1,500 people statewide who are trained helpers. As Watson puts it, she "holds your hand" through the process.

"We're talking about people that are scared. They do not understand insurance. Some people look at it as something they're made to do," explains Watson. "Some people look at it as something they really don't have to have. They don't know what questions to ask."

The next open enrollment period begins November 15th, but Watson says she remains busy in the nine central Kentucky counties she serves, helping people who are immediately eligible for coverage because of "life circumstances."

More than 500,000 Kentuckians have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, known unofficially as Obamacare. Watson, who lives in Harrodsburg, was one of the first. A survivor of salivary gland cancer, she says until kynect came along, she had been unable to obtain coverage because of her pre-existing conditions.

"It's like flying without a parachute if you don't have insurance," she says. "You never know when something's going to happen."

Now, Watson says she uses her family's experiences to illustrate to others why the health benefit exchange is important.

"People think their taxes are going to go up, they're worried about the cost, and I try to explain to them we need to make Kentuckians healthier."

Watson's job as a kynector is through the Bluegrass Community Action Partnership, one of the agencies that supplies helpers to the state. More than 1,800 licensed insurance agents also are registered with kynect.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY