Thursday, October 24, 2013

More than 60,000 Arkansans have enrolled in the "private option" for Medicaid expansion

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 4:37 PM

In testimony before the Joint Public Health Committee at the capitol today, the Department of Human Services released the latest figures on enrollment in the "private option" for Medicaid expansion. Through October 19, more than 60,000 have enrolled, and more than 4,000 have submitted applications, pending an eligibility check from DHS. To put these numbers in perspective: the "private option" has already reduced the number of uninsured adults (18-64) in Arkansas by almost 14 percent.

For background on how enrollment works (and what we mean by "enrolled"), see here, but the short version: when DHS receives a response to their direct mail campaign (they've received 62, 021 so far), those folks are enrolled — they've sent a signed application statement to DHS and DHS has already confirmed their income status via existing information. Those enrollees are then directed to a state-run website (it's working fine) to pick a plan. But if they don't pick a plan, they're still enrolled — they have a plan picked for them via the "private option" auto-assignment policy. Of the 62,021, thus far 14,079 have gone to the website to select a private plan. Of those, a little more than 4,000 (around 28 percent) have been routed to the traditional Medicaid program after a health screening test determined that they were medically needy/frail and would be better served in the traditional program. 

In addition to the 62,021 enrollees, DHS has received 4,051 completed applications: 1,729 via paper applications or telephone and 2,344 via the state-run website for applying for the "private option" (separate from the site for picking a plan, also working fine). Over the next six weeks, DHS will determine eligibility for these pending applications. Those that qualify for the "private option" will be enrolled; those that don't will be directed to the Health Insurance Marketplace, to sign up there (hopefully via a functioning federal portal by then!). 

The "private option" covers people below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for an individual, $32,499 for a family of four), using Medicaid dollars available through the federal Affordable Care Act to pay for the premiums of private health insurance plans. 

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