Wednesday, December 18, 2013

TOP STORY >> Interest limited for new signups

Leader senior staff writer

If you want new health insurance under the Affordable Care Act to take effect Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 23, according to two in-person assisters whose job it is to help people through the process.

The two, Joyce Hardy and Stephen Marshall, are sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System. They were on hand to help at Sherwood’s Amy Sanders Library last Thursday evening.

Perhaps because the state General Assembly turned their thumbs down on a $5 million advertising and informational campaign for the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare — no one showed up for the two-hour enrollment opportunity.

As the enrollment deadline nears for those wanting Affordable Care Act health-care coverage by the Jan. 1 startup, scores of in-person assisters are available in Pulaski, Lonoke and White counties.

The cost of health care varies by the extent of coverage sought, family size, income and smoking status, Marshall said.

Hardy said most of the people they helped are finding the new health coverage better and less expensive than their current policy, if they have one.

Despite concerns that they don’t qualify because they don’t make enough money, don’t have a job or do have a pre-existing condition, those are precisely the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed for, Hardy said.

Most days, she answers questions or helps one to three people enroll. In Pulaski County, there are 13 groups sponsoring in-person assisters, including people at all Central Arkansas Library branches, Hardy said.

Those enrolling can do so by phone, in person, on paper or through the website, according to Hardy. She said that she has helped 38 people enroll. Another in-person assistor, Stephen Foster, said he had helped about 30.

According to Heather Haywood of the state Insurance Department, “Arkansas Health Connector is holding enrollment events throughout the state.” Consumers are applying, shopping and enrolling in health-insurance plans through, Haywood said. “The website improvements have allowed consumers to ha ve better shopping experience,” she noted.

As of Dec. 2, 58,203 Arkansans had completed enrollment, according to Amy Webb, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services. Another 5,432, based on their answers, were told they would be better served in the traditional Medicaid program.

Rice said between 200,000 and 250,000 Arkansans are eligible for Affordable Care Act insurance.

For eligibility, a person or family would have to have taxable income of 138 percent of the poverty level. So a single person earning up to $15,850 a year would be eligible .

Marshall said eligibility is determined by these simple criteria:

• You must live in the U.S.

• You must be lawfully present in the U.S.

• You must not be incarcerated due to a conviction.

• All Arkansans between 19 and 65 years old are required by law to have health insurance by March 15 or face a penalty that increases every year.

• All insurance policies, whether through the website, Medicaid expansion or regular private insurance, are now required to accept people younger than 19 who have preexisting conditions, allow parents to carry their children on their plans until they are 26, provide free preventative care and lift lifetime limits on health insurance payout. All health insurance plans must provide:

• Outpatient services, including primary-care physician office visits; specialist office visits, outpatient surgical services, outpatient diagnostics, including advanced diagnostic services such as MRIs and CT scans; and outpatient physical and occupational therapy.

• Emergency services, including after-hours clinic or urgent-care center visits; observation services, transfer to in-network hospital and ambulance services.

• Hospitalization, including hospital services; physician hospital visits, inpatient services, including surgical services; physical and occupational therapy and organ transplant services.

• Maternity and newborn care.

• Mental health and substance abuse services, including professional services; diagnostics and inpatient and outpatient care at a hospital or other covered facility.

• Prescription drugs.

• Rehabilitative and habilitative services, including physical, occupational and speech therapy and developmental services.

• Laboratory services — testing and evaluation.

• Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, including case- management communications made by primary-care physician.

• Preventive health services, including routine immunizations and pediatric services, including dental and vision care.

Locations where help with enrollment is available include:


• Local Health Department units, including the one in Jacksonville, 501-982-7477.

• Arkansas Health Care Access Foundation, 501-221-3033 and 501-951-5330.

• Arkansas Minority Health Commission, 501-686-2720.

• Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, 501-366-3647.

• Better Community Development, Inc., 501-663-9181, 501-580-4269.

• Central Arkansas Library, 501-918-3031.

• Central Arkansas Volunteers in Medicine, doing business as Harmony Health Clinic, 501-375-4400.

• Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc., 501-374-8225.

• Future Builders, Inc., 501- 897-5566.

• Hope, Restoration and Wellness Learning Center, 501-240-2795

• IN Affordable Housing, Inc., 501-221-2203, 501-954-0017 (mobile).

• Mental Health Council of Arkansas, 501-372-7062.

• The Living & Affected, 877-902-7448.

• Women’s Council on African American Affairs, Inc., 501-372-3800.


• Cabot Health Unit, 501- 843-7561.

• Lonoke Health Unit, 501- 676-2268.

• Central Arkansas Library, 501-918-3031.

• Future Builders, Inc., 501-897-5566.

• In Affordable Housing, Inc., 501-221-2203, 501-954-0017 (mobile).


• Beebe Health Unit, 501- 882-5128.

• IN Affordable Housing, Inc., 501-221-2203, 501-954-0017 (mobile).

• Mental Health Council of Arkansas, 501-372-7062.

Connector website is For help enrolling or to find assisters in your area, call 855-283-3483.