AR deputy commissioner speaks on insurance marketplace

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - State officials say more than 62,000 Arkansans have been approved for state health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The state has 71 plans available from four different insurance companies. However, availability depends on where someone lives.

Central and northwest Arkansans have access to 41 insurance plans, where as northeast Arkansans only has 17 plans available.

"Like many, the companies were taking a 'wait and see' attitude. So I think in future years, you'll see more plans and more companies," Cindy Crone, the Arkansas Insurance Department deputy commissioner, said.

Crone said the state has been an innovator and leader with the exchange. She said 17 may sound like a small number, but it is important to look at the bigger picture.

"It's been political and it's been technical," Crone said.

The health care exchange launched Oct. 1. Crone said the biggest problem since then has been the national website.

"It did not work as well as we hoped. We knew there would be some difficulties, but I don't think anybody anticipated this much,"Crone said. "The first three days that website had more traffic than Southwest Airlines has in a month."

However, Crone said the website should be working well by Dec. 1.

"I would say to people, 'Keep trying.' And I know there's other ways. By phone, by mail, with in person assistors to get in," Crone said.

Here are other dates to watch for:

  • Dec. 15: If someone needs coverage by Jan. 1, this is the final day to enroll.
  • March 31: Individuals have until the 31st to enroll without a penalty. If they are still not covered by then, they will have to pay $95 or one percent of their income, what ever is higher, each month. That amount will go up each year.

"What we want is people to get covered and get health," Crone said.

If you need help enrolling, visit the Health Insurance Marketplace's website and Enroll the Ridge!'s website.

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