12,000 Arkansans sign up under health insurance marketplace


LITTLE ROCK — More than 12,000 Arkansans had selected health insurance plans through the federal government’s health insurance marketplace website by Dec. 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a report released Monday.

The website debuted Oct. 1 but was plagued by technical difficulties during its first two months. Monday’s report showing that 12,763 Arkansans had selected plans reflects a significant increase in activity since federal officials released a previous report showing that just 1,400 Arkansans had selected plans by Nov. 30.

Nationwide, 2.15 million people had selected plans by Dec. 28, according to Monday’s report. Federal officials said the total reflected a nearly five-fold increase from the first two months of the website’s operation.

Monday’s report also shows that 45,877 Arkansans had completed applications for insurance, with the applications seeking coverage for 66,693 people.

Of the 12,763 Arkansans who had selected plans, 88 percent obtained financial assistance.

The report shows that 22 percent of Arkansans who have selected plans are age 34 or younger, 15 percent are age 35-44 and 63 percent are age 45 or older.

A majority of Arkansans who have selected plans, 63 percent, selected a silver plan, which pays 70 percent of covered health care costs. Federal officials said 16 percent selected a bronze plan, which pays 60 percent of costs, and 21 percent selected a gold plan, which pays 80 percent of costs.

The numbers released Monday by the federal government do not include Arkansans who have enrolled in the private option, the state’s plan to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance through the marketplace for low-income Arkansans.

As of Friday, 75,832 Arkansans had enrolled for coverage under the private option, according to the state Department of Human Services. The agency said it determined that 7,398 of the people who enrolled would be better served through the traditional Medicaid program.

DHS has projected that between 200,000 and 250,000 people will enroll in the private option.