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Enrollment Begins Today for Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace

A 45-day open-enrollment period begins today for people seeking 2018 health-insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. (ACA screenshot)
A 45-day open-enrollment period begins today for people seeking 2018 health-insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. (ACA screenshot)
November 1, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Today is the first day of open enrollments for 2018 health-care coverage through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace.

Despite talk in Washington about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, the program is still open for business and people who are eligible can sign up for or renew coverage from now through Dec. 15. Amid the confusion, said Bruce Donaldson, outreach manager for My Arkansas Insurance, which manages the state marketplace, his group is working hard to get the message out that enrollment season is here.

"We're doing paid media, earned media, we're going on social media - Facebook, Instagram - as well as print, billboards," he said. "We're really going to be pushing hard for the next 45 days to get folks to get enrolled."

Donaldson said some changes for 2018 are worth noting. The enrollment period has been cut in half, and President Trump has eliminated the federal cost-sharing subsidy that paid some of the out-of-pocket costs for low-income people. The individual mandate still is in effect, he said, so everyone must have health coverage or pay a fine to the Internal Revenue Service at tax time.

Donaldson said he and his insurance navigators already have begun fielding questions about next year's plan.

"Most of the questions center on pre-existing conditions: Will they be covered? If you're pregnant, or you have cancer, are you going to be covered? And the answer is yes," he said. "That's why there's an open enrollment, because that is the time - and only the time - that you can get on a plan 'til next open enrollment."

Even if you're happy with your insurance plan, Donaldson said, it's a good idea to go online and see what else is available for 2018.

"You can go on Healthcare.gov and there's a little green tab that says, 'Compare Prices.' Go in there and look at the plans, and you can also see, based on your income, what kind of help you can get," he said. "It's a good way to go in there and check it out, without having to do a full application."

He said My Arkansas Insurance is operating an information hotline during the enrollment period. Arkansans can call 844-355-3382 during normal business hours Monday through Friday.

More information is online at myarinsurance.com.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR