Arkansas Medicaid Expansion Enrollment Up, Costs Down

Jul 27, 2015

Private option data for June released by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

The number of Arkansans deemed eligible for health care coverage through the state’s expansion of Medicaid – known as the private option – continues to tick up, rising to 259,335 in June. That’s up 4,586 people from May according to information released by the state Department of Human Services on Monday.

The total average cost per person also declined by almost a dollar, from $485.83 in May to $484.94 in June. That sits well under the federally approved cap of $500.08 per person. The cap set by the Centers for Medicaid Services is a condition of the waiver that allows Arkansas to use federal money, intended to expand the federally-run Medicaid program, to instead purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

The average premium cost per person also declined from May to June ($350.96-$350.28). June’s average cost is below every other month this year with the exception of January, when the average premium per person was $349.90.

The private option is the Arkansas's adaptation of an Affordable Care Act provision that allows states to opt-in to a higher federal reimbursement rate for Medicaid and expand coverage to those earning 138 percent of the poverty line.  

A legislative task force is currently assessing the future of the state's Medicaid program with recommendations expected by the end of the year. The private option is set to expire by 2017.