Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Number of Arkansans purchasing insurance on tops 68,000

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 4:12 PM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said today that 68,622 people in Arkansas have now signed up for health insurance coverage through or have had their existing coverage automatically renewed. About 8.9 people have signed up nationwide.

Those individuals are a separate population from the estimated 250,000 Arkansans covered by the state's expansion of Medicaid for low-income adults, also known as the private option. The Medicaid expansion covers individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or a little over $16,000 for a household of one.

In addition to expanding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) created a sliding scale of tax credits to help people purchase private plans on an "exchange" or "marketplace." These folks buying insurance on are earning more than the people receiving private option coverage.

Those who are making only a little bit more than the federal poverty line ($20,000, say) have most of the cost of their premium covered with a federal subsidy in the form of a tax credit. Those making significantly more still get a subsidy, but a smaller one. Those making above 400 percent of the federal poverty line don't receive a subsidy at all — the logic being that you can afford the full cost of the premium on a private insurance plan at that point. Of course, most people making that much money (though certainly not all) don't buy their insurance through a private plan; they get it through their employer.

HHS also reminds people who have yet to sign up for insurance that the enrollment deadline for 2016 is fast approaching on January 31. And this year, the penalty for not having insurance is going to jump significantly, to $695 or more.

68,622 people in Arkansas signed up for coverage through
Only 4 days remain before final enrollment deadline for 2016 coverage

With less than one week remaining before the final enrollment deadline on January 31, about 8.9 million consumers have already signed-up for health coverage through the platform or had their coverage automatically renewed, including 68,622 in Arkansas.

“The clock is ticking with just four days left before January 31, the final enrollment deadline for 2016 health coverage,” said U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell. “We are focused on making sure people know that financial help is available, the deadline is fast approaching and that we’re here to help them enroll – so that they don't risk having to pay a penalty of $695 or more for not having health insurance.”

Today’s enrollment snapshot also includes the number of people who selected a plan or were automatically reenrolled within local media markets. As of January 23,

5,573 consumers in the Jonesboro local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan
20,332 consumers in the Monroe-Dl Dorado local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan
22,230 consumers in the Ft. Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan
33,191 consumers in the Little Rock-Pine Bluff local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan

Having health insurance when you can afford it is now the law. If someone chooses not to buy health insurance and could afford to do so, they are at risk of paying a fee of $695 or more. Consumers are encouraged to visit to review and compare health plan options and find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, which can help lower monthly premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

As we near January 31, the final deadline for 2016 coverage, officials from HHS are available for print, radio and television interviews. Satellite TV interviews are also available. To request an interview with an official from HHS, email

Five Facts about Open Enrollment in Arkansas:

1. Time is running out. January 31, 2016 is the final deadline for you to sign up at for 2016 coverage.
2. Thousands in Arkansas have already enrolled. Since Open Enrollment began on November 1, 68,622 Arkansas consumers have selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled.
3. Financial help is available. In the first month of Open Enrollment, 86 percent of Arkansas consumers who selected health insurance plans were determined eligible for financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums.
4. There’s still time to make changes. If you had coverage in 2015 and learned that your plan was automatically renewed for 2016, you still have time to shop plans and make changes. If you find better plan for your family is available, you can change plans at any time before the end of Open Enrollment on January 31, 2016.
5. Picking a plan and signing up for coverage is easier than ever. Every year we find new ways to make signing-up for a plan simpler. You can even apply on a cell phone.

Free, expert help is available:

If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a call or click away.

Online: Information is available at or
By phone: Call center representatives are available to help all day, every day at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Assistance is available in 150 languages. The call is free.
In person: Consumers can find local help at by visiting: 

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