Demographics for the private option, which now has 240,000 enrollees | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Demographics for the private option, which now has 240,000 enrollees

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 8:48 AM

Through the end of February, just under 240,000 Arkansans had gained coverage via the private option. As always, worth noting: that's 240,000 folks who would lose their insurance plans if the rump group of Tea Partiers in the legislature got their way and ended the coverage expansion in two years.    

Yesterday, I reported on the latest cost figures for the private option released by DHS (per capita costs are down in 2015 and well below budget targets). 

Here's the demographic breakdown of those 240,000, according to the figures released yesterday:

*58 percent  female

*43 percent between the ages of 19-34 This is an important demographic for keeping costs down in the pool: both the premiums and the real health costs of younger people are lower. The younger private option population is also helping to keep the costs of premiums down in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace as a whole. In other words, the private option pool of folks is likely making health insurance cheaper for any Arkansans shopping on the Marketplace.  

*10 percent deemed medically frail Private option enrollees take a health screener and those deemed medically needy are routed to the traditional Medicaid program. State officials argue that the traditional program is more suited to handle beneficiaries with significant health care needs, but the real policy angle here is cost. These are the costliest people in the pool and by sending them to Medicaid instead of private plans, the private market is being shielded from taking them on. This means that the remaining private option pool is much healthier. That has likely been a powerful tool in keeping premiums lower on the Marketplace. 

81 percent below the poverty line People who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the private option. Most make less than 100 percent FPL; around 19 percent make between 100-138 percent FPL. 

One piece of demographic information I'd be curious to see would be how many have dependent children, but DHS has never provided this data. I'll make another request. 

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