70% of Eligible Arkansas Signed Up for Private Option

ARKANSAS -- A Department of Human Services (DHS) press release shows the majority of those eligible for the private option signed-up within the first six months.

DHS reports a total of 155,567 of the estimated 225,000 Arkansans - about 70-percent - who qualify had applied and been determined eligible as of March 31, surpassing the state's expectations.

The Private Option, signed into law last April, allows the state to use federal Medicaid funding to pay the private health insurance premiums for those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,105 for a household of one. Arkansas was the first state in the country to place people in private plans rather than expand the traditional Medicaid program. Several other states are now exploring similar options.

Here's a breakdown of the 10 counties with the highest enrollment:

Pulaski County - 20,281
Washington County - 8,093
Benton County - 6,953
Garland County - 6,429
Sebastian County - 5,278
Craighead County - 5,252
Faulkner County - 5,235
Jefferson County - 5,105
Crittenden County - 4,130
White County - 3,770

Unlike the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, which has an open enrollment period that ended March 31, DHS says people who are eligible for the Private Option can apply at any time throughout the year.

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