Arkansans who are still looking to sign up for health coverage on the Insurance Marketplace have about one month to due so. For those who want their coverage to begin on February 1st, the deadline is Thursday. So far, at least 51,801 Arkansans have signed up for coverage on healthcare.gov. About 53,000 residents signed up for coverage during the last open enrollment period.
Seth Blomely, Communications and Policy Research Manager at the Arkansas Insurance Department says the current open enrollment period is going more smoothly this time around.
“Through this time last year there were about 12,000 adults [signed up in Arkansas]...so there's been significant improvement in healthcare.gov,” he says. “We're pleased with the numbers.”
But time is running out, Blomely notes.
“If you want to have health insurance through the Marketplace this year, now's the time to start really thinking about it,” he says. The final day to sign up is February 15th. Those who do will see their coverage coverage begin March 1st.
“Thereafter only cases of special circumstances can sign up for marketplace plans,” says Blomely.
Those special cases include people who lose a job that provided health insurance, people who switch jobs to one without health insurance and people who get married.
Arkansans who don't get insurance through their employer and who make too much income to qualify for coverage through the state's private option can buy a policy through the Marketplace.
On average, Blomely says Arkansans who purchased Marketplace plans last year received a monthly tax credit of 293 dollars, with an average out-of-pocket monthly expense of 94 dollars. He says anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of Arkansans who buy a policy on the Marketplace qualify for a tax credit.
If an adult does not enroll in health insurance by the February 15th deadline, they could face a penalty for the 2015 tax year. For the 2014 tax year, Blomely says the penalty was 95 dollars for an adult or 1 percent one's taxable income, whichever was greater. For the current tax year, that penalty increases to 325 dollars per adult or 2 percent of one's taxable income, whichever is greater.
Arkansans can go to healthcare.gov to shop for coverage for this year. The Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board is currently working to form a state-run exchange for 2016 so individual consumers will not have to access the federal website to shop for coverage in the future.