Many Arkansans still uninsured

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Thursday marked day three of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, and many Arkansans still do not know if they qualify for some of the available insurance plans.

A local group, Enroll the Ridge, is working to make sure the community has the information they need.

"We're part of their communities, we know their communities. If you just get a little bit turned around, that's what we're here for," Enroll the Ridge director Jim Miles said.

More than half a million Arkansans are still uninsured and 46,000 of those are here in Region 8.

"About half of that falls below the 138 percent of poverty. So for that group, there will be no premiums. It will be fully covered at no cost," Miles said.

If you are above 138 percent of poverty, that's where Enroll the Ridge comes in to help with the exchanges.

"Calculate how much they have to pay and what the subsidy will be," Miles said.

Miles said their message is simple: there is now no reason to not have health coverage.

"There's no gap between the federal exchange and Medicaid, which is the private option in Arkansas," Miles said.

The state legislature voted to expand Medicaid back in April. This is why no gap exists in the state.

"This way a person can stay on the same insurance plan. It's just who pays the premium is different. So that's a big step for Arkansas. It's a huge, huge win for the uninsured people in Arkansas," Miles said.

Miles said this is especially important because Arkansas ranks high in chronic illnesses.

"People need to be seeing a doctor, but without health insurance, it's difficult. This way they have options to get primary health care and preventative health care," Miles said.

Beginning January 1, no one can be denied health insurance benefits or charged more for them because of a preexisting condition.

"It's just huge what it would cost and this allows the folks who rally need the primary health care to get coverage. So January 1 is a big day for Arkansas," Miles said.

If you would like to make an appointment with Enroll the Ridge or have more questions, call 870-336-0520. The organization is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To see where your household falls on the federal poverty level, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's website.

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