Arkansas Health Insurance
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, makes health insurance more affordable and accessible. Insurers now cannot charge higher premiums based on pre-existing medical conditions and must offer certain coverage such as preventive care. In turn, nearly all U.S. residents must purchase health insurance. To help with costs, government-based tax credits are available to subsidize insurance premiums.
Arkansas does not have its own health insurance exchange, but it has partnered with the federal government to provide insurance options to Arkansas residents. The state has also chosen to expand Medicaid to provide affordable health care to low-income families. On the whole, the Affordable Care Act has lowered the cost of insurance for most individuals throughout Arkansas.
What is a health insurance marketplace?
A health insurance marketplace, also called an exchange, is a comparison site that allows customers to view insurance plans and choose the policy that will match their needs. The Affordable Care Act allowed states to establish their own exchanges or to direct their residents to the federal exchange.
Arkansas is one of seven states that chose to partner with the government to create an exchange, so residents will buy their exchange policies through HealthCare.gov. However, Arkansas does have a resource site at Arkansas Health Connector that provides information about Arkansas health insurance.
When using the exchange, you’ll first need to create an account with HealthCare.gov during open enrollment. You’ll be prompted to enter information about where you live, the size of your family and your income. This information will be used to provide you with a selection of affordable policies and determine whether you’ll qualify for a health insurance subsidy.
Do I qualify for a health insurance subsidy?
To reduce the cost of insurance, the government provides subsidies, in the form of tax credits, for people with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Individuals with lower incomes may qualify for Medicaid. Generally, subsidies will be based on 2013 poverty level limits, and Medicare and CHIP qualification will be based on 2014 limits.
Individuals who earn between $11,490 and $45,960 and families of four who earn between $23,550 and $94,200 may qualify for a subsidy. The subsidy will be applied directly to your insurance premium. People with higher incomes will receive lower subsidies.
Which health insurance companies are active in Arkansas?
- Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
- QualChoice Health Insurance
- Ambetter of Arkansas, through Centene Corp.
Health care for low-income families
In addition to health insurance subsidies, some low-income families may qualify for Medicaid. In Arkansas, adults with incomes up to $1,273 per month may qualify for Medicaid coverage. Children whose families earn below $2,020 per month may also qualify for Medicaid. Arkansas offers no additional Children’s Health Insurance Program for low-income families.
Arkansas health and coverage statistics
Arkansas population (2013): 2,959,373
Population 65 and older (2012): 15 percent
Life expectancy (2010): 76.0 years
Number of Medicaid beneficiaries (2012): 550,800
Number of Medicare beneficiaries (2012): 499,100
Estimated number of uninsured residents (2012): 521,500
Overall state health ranking: 49
Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation, U.S. Census Bureau, America’s Health Rankings 2014 report.