Private Medicaid expansion a big hit among consumers


Arkansas's Medicaid program, which is expanding through a private option the state pioneered, has proven quite popular--70 percent of the 225,000 Arkansans who are eligible for the federal-state program have signed up for coverage, the state Department of Human Services announced.

More than 155,000 people will enroll in a private Medicaid plan. What's more, 82 percent of those new enrollees wouldn't have qualified for federal subsidies through the health insurance exchange.

"We now know that an overwhelming majority of Arkansans in the program would have likely gone without health insurance had the legislature not passed the private option," DHS Director John Selig said in a statement. "Clearly there was a real need in a lot of these families."

The agency also said 61 percent of the enrollees are women, and another 64 percent are between 19 and 44 years old.

"The average age and sheer number of people in the private option will have a significant impact on competiveness and strength of the state's insurance market moving forward," Arkansas Medicaid Director Andy Allison said in the statement.

Four insurers--Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Centene's Ambetter, QualChoice of Arkansas and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas--are competing to sign up these new consumers. DHS didn't provide information about which plan consumers selected, reported Healthcare Payer News.

The approach Arkansas is using to expand its Medicaid program almost didn't happen. It took five votes before the Arkansas legislature reauthorized the first-in-the-nation private option to Medicaid expansion, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Arkansas DHS statement (.pdf)
- read the Healthcare Payer News article

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