More than 150,000 have gained coverage under private option; DHS releases demographic information | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 21, 2014

More than 150,000 have gained coverage under private option; DHS releases demographic information

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 3:06 PM


Through March 31, 155,567 Arkansans have been deemed eligible and gained coverage under the private option, the state's unique plan which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans (see county by county numbers above). 

The Department of Human Services announced the latest enrollment figures today and also released some demographic information on enrollees:

*61 percent are women.

*64 percent are between the ages of 19 and 44. According to Medicaid Director Andy Allison, this is a somewhat younger population than the rest of the people on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. (According to federal data, through March 1, just 43 percent of the non-private-option Marketplace was 44 or younger — that includes children, who are not eligible for the private option.)

*43 percent are 19 to 34, the "young invincibles" group that insurers covet and tend to have the lowest health costs.  By contrast, just 22 percent of the non-private option Marketplace was 18-34 (18-year-olds are not eligible for the private option). We'll have to see how these trends hold up, but if the private option continues to bring in a younger pool, that could be very good news in terms of stabilizing the Marketplace and bringing down premiums in the long term. 

*11 percent of the people who have gained coverage were deemed "medically frail" and routed to the traditional Medicaid program. 

*82 percent of enrollees are below the poverty line, which means they would not have been eligible for subsidized coverage without the private option expansion. It also means that this year, they do not have any cost-sharing, although the state plans to implement some cost sharing below the poverty line next year

*Among private option beneficiaries who enrolled in private plans, 35 percent selected their own plan and 65 percent were auto-assigned after not picking their own plan. 

*5 percent of enrollees were assisted by a broker. In counties in which this rate was higher, the rate of self-selection was higher, suggesting that beneficiaries are more likely to pick their own plan if they have someone to guide them through the process.  

Here's the full age breakdown: 
19-25: 18 percent
26-34: 25 percent
35-44: 21 percent
44-54: 21 percent
55-64: 15 percent

See here for the full data released by DHS today: 

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