Despite the incredible attention that is now paid to health insurance across the nation, as well as in Arkansas, the topic remains confusing and frustrating to many consumers. The number of uninsured, non-elderly adults in Arkansas remains stubbornly high. The good news is that there is help for those trying to navigate the realm of health insurance in this post-reform era.
Before you search for health insurance quotes, however, there are several factors to consider.
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Arkansas Health Insurance Statistics
According to census data and media reports:
- Arkansas has the third lowest cost of health insurance in the nation, with average premiums costing individuals $4,586 per year, and families $11,830.
- Despite these relatively low rates, more than 18 percent of Arkansas residents were without health insurance in 2012.
- The high cost of insurance is the main reason why people go without coverage.
- The majority of the uninsured are in low-income working families.
- Reflecting the more limited availability of public coverage, adults are more likely to be uninsured than children.
- People without insurance coverage have worse access to care than people who are insured. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.
Why is Health Insurance Important?
A good health insurance plan can help you maintain good health by catching problems early and assisting you in paying your medical bills. Studies show that people with health insurance seek preventative treatment for issues that arise, which is most often far less expensive than reactionary care after a problem has necessitated emergency room visits.
Health insurance can also help you avoid expensive medical bills, should you need major surgery or other covered treatment.
Am I Required to Carry Health Insurance in Arkansas?
Now that most of the stipulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are in effect, health insurance is required by federal law. Those without health insurance during 2014 will have to pay a fine of $95 per adult, or one percent of income, whichever is greater. This penalty substantially increases to $695 by 2016.
Some people are exempt from the health insurance mandate, however. Arkansas residents who are members of American Indian tribes, and those who would pay more than eight percent of their income on premiums, are not subjected to the fine.
Health insurance plans must also meet the ACA's minimum standards in order to avoid paying the penalty as well. Most employer-provided health care plans do meet these minimums, but some do not. It's important to speak with a qualified insurance agent to determine if the health insurance plan you are considering is in compliance with federal law.
What Does Health Insurance Cover?
Health insurance plans cover a wide variety of medical treatments and doctor visits, but these packages vary greatly from provider to provider. If your policy meets the Affordable Care Act's minimum requirements, however, it must cover the following types of services:
- Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
- Emergency services
- Hospitalization (such as surgery)
- Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)
- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
- Laboratory services
- Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
- Pediatric services
Some plans cover much more. It's important to review your options carefully and identify you and your family's health needs before purchasing a health insurance policy.
How Does Health Insurance Work in AR?
Most health insurance plans offered in Arkansas can help you pay for your regular medical costs, as well as your major health expenses, depending on the type of plan you choose. However, those monthly premiums will most likely not be your only expense. Depending on the plan you choose, you will also pay:
- Co-payments: This cost, usually around $25, is one you must pay every time you visit a doctor or are prescribed medication. Co-payments for emergency services are usually higher, around $100.
- Deductibles: A deductible is the amount of money that you are required to pay before your insurance begins to cover services. Deductibles generally operate on a yearly basis. If you do not meet your deductible within a year for services you require, your insurance company may not pay for treatment.
- Coinsurance: Some policies may have coinsurance, which requires you to pay a certain percentage of services rendered. Your coinsurance may be an amount you pay in addition to your co-pay, and may apply towards your deductible.
What Will My Health Insurance Quote Look Like?
Health insurance quotes can vary considerably, depending on the plan you choose and whether you need single or family coverage. The average health insurance policy quote in Arkansas for single coverage is around $400 per month in premiums, and family coverage plans quotes average around $900 per month.
For those who purchase their health insurance through their work, some of these premiums are paid by their employer. Now that Arkansas has a health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), however, some may find better coverage at lower quotes than the plan currently offered through their job.
Under the ACA, people with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of poverty may be eligible for premium tax credits when they purchase coverage in a marketplace. The amount of the tax credit is based on income and the cost of insurance, and tax credits are only available to people who are not eligible for other coverage, such as Medicaid/CHIP, Medicare, or employer coverage.
Where Can I Find Health Insurance in AR?
If you, like many Arkansas residents, are still searching for a qualified health insurance plan, or you are simply curious if a more affordable option is available, the good news is that help is just a phone call away.
Knowledgeable, independent insurance agents in the Trusted Choice network are always available to answer your health insurance questions, suggest coverage options best suited to your situation, and even assist you in filing a claim. These agents have years of experience working with Arkansas health insurance providers and are up-to-date with all of the current health insurance reforms and regulations. They can help you navigate the state's health insurance exchange and find you a number of quotes with the best coverage options at the most affordable rates. Contact a Trusted Choice agent near you to find out how you can obtain the perfect health insurance policy that meets your needs and budget.