17,000 Arkansans Newly Deemed Eligible for the Private Option

Jun 12, 2014

Approved Eligibility for Private Option by County
Credit Arkansas Department of Human Services / DHS

The number of Arkansans who have applied and been determined eligible for health insurance coverage through the private option grew by over 17,000 last month. Numbers released Thursday by the Department of Human Services show the state’s alternative to expanding the federally-run Medicaid plan continues to near enrollment goals.

DHS spokeswoman Amy Webb said the figures released cover the month of May.

“Over 187,000 have been determined eligible. Just over 172,000 of those have already completed the enrollment process and now have full access to their private health insurance coverage. Overall we estimate that about 225,000 Arkansans would be eligible for the program so we’re about 75 percent there,” said Webb.

The private option was a heated issue in this week’s run-off contest for state senate between Republicans John Burris and Scott Flippo. Boone, Baxter, and Marion counties comprise their senate district and have over 5,800 people eligible for the private option. Flippo, an opponent of the plan, won and received just over 3,900 votes in the run-off. Burris has widely been credited as an architect of the private option.

The Affordable Care Act expanded eligibility for the Medicaid program to adults making 138 percent of the poverty level. Arkansas acquired a waiver from the federal government to use expanded eligibility and funding to purchase private insurance for low-income workers. The state legislature is required to annually vote on re-authorizing Arkansas’s alternative to Medicaid expansion.

Map from Image Above with Demographics
Credit Arkansas Department of Human Services / DHS