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September 24, 2017

Obamacare proves popular in Arkansas




The state Department of Human Services’ monthly report on enrollment in the Private Option health insurance program — Arkansas’s version of the Medicaid expansion enabled by Obamacare, or the federal Affordable Care Act — shows even broader popularity than expected, more than 300,000 covered against an expected 250,000.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn’t exactly cheer the news of an expanded population of Arkansans having health coverage. He said the numbers illustrated the need for changes he’s proposed that will discourage people from obtaining coverage, such as added premiums.

“We’re concerned about the growing numbers and controlling costs, and that is one of the reasons that the reforms under Arkansas Works are very important,” Hutchinson said in a statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Sure, it costs less if fewer are covered and those who are covered pay more.

Meanwhile, the federal Health and Human Services Department today plans a news conference to discuss  rate increases by private insurance companies offering private option coverage  in the marketplace (almost 10 percent for Blue Cross, for example). Says HHS;  “consumers will continue to have affordable coverage options, even if all Marketplace final health insurance premium rates were to increase by double digits next year in Arkansas.” I presume this refers to the fact that a significant percentage of those with the coverage (almost three-quarters in Arkansas) will qualify for tax credits that will offset increases. HHS has reported here before and in other states that, in addition to tax credits which cover premium increases, patients can shop around. Rates are lower than predicted in the rollout and some short-term impact on rates is expected to dissipate in the next few years.



The state Department of Human Services’ monthly report on enrollment in the Private Option health insurance program — Arkansas’s version of the Medicaid expansion enabled by Obamacare, or the federal Affordable Care Act — shows even broader popularity than expected, more than 300,000 covered against an expected 250,000.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn’t exactly cheer the news of an expanded population of Arkansans having health coverage. He said the numbers illustrated the need for changes he’s proposed that will discourage people from obtaining coverage, such as added premiums.

“We’re concerned about the growing numbers and controlling costs, and that is one of the reasons that the reforms under Arkansas Works are very important,” Hutchinson said in a statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Sure, it costs less if fewer are covered and those who are covered pay more.

Meanwhile, the federal Health and Human Services Department today plans a news conference to discuss  rate increases by private insurance companies offering private option coverage  in the marketplace (almost 10 percent for Blue Cross, for example). Says HHS;  “consumers will continue to have affordable coverage options, even if all Marketplace final health insurance premium rates were to increase by double digits next year in Arkansas.” I presume this refers to the fact that a significant percentage of those with the coverage (almost three-quarters in Arkansas) will qualify for tax credits that will offset increases. HHS has reported here before and in other states that, in addition to tax credits which cover premium increases, patients can shop around. Rates are lower than predicted in the rollout and some short-term impact on rates is expected to dissipate in the next few years.

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