Who is the Marketplace for?
The Arkansas health insurance Marketplace is where eligible residents can shop for and buy insurance in person, online or by phone. Arkansas and the federal government are running the Marketplace, Arkansas Health Connector, in partnership. The Marketplace, also called an Exchange, is mainly for people who:
- Don’t have insurance
- Aren’t insured by their employer
- Aren't included in their spouse's employer insurance
- Have pre-existing conditions and may have had trouble getting insurance before
- Have private insurance but want to look at other options
- Own a small business
The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans have health insurance starting in 2014. Generally, you don't need to buy insurance through the Marketplace if you are currently covered by Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, or an employer-sponsored plan.
When You Can Enroll: The next open enrollment period will be from Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 15, 2015.
If you have a life-changing event -- such as the birth of a child, losing your job, or moving to a new state -- you don't have to wait for the next enrollment period. You can sign up or change coverage within 60 days of the event.
Plans and Costs
Types of plans: All the insurance plans on the Marketplace are sold by private companies or co-ops. They can offer four levels of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. These “metal level” plans all cover the same benefits in Arkansas. What differs is how much they pay on average toward the costs of healthcare services. Here’s how it works:
- Bronze Plan: You pay 40% and the plan pays 60%.
- Silver Plan: You pay 30% and the plan pays 70%.
- Gold Plan: You pay 20% and the plan pays 80%.
- Platinum Plan: You pay 10% and the plan pays 90%.
Low cost - or catastrophic - plans are available, especially for those who are under 30 and are healthy. These plans cost less up front, but they don’t give you as much coverage. They generally require you to pay more out-of-pocket costs.
Costs: Companies on the Marketplace can vary costs based on your age, where you live in the state, and your tobacco use. They cannot charge you more because of your sex or your health condition.
Here are the average monthly premiums for all age groups across Arkansas. Specific premiums will vary.
- Lowest cost bronze: $275
- Lowest cost silver: $351
Tobacco surcharge: Arkansas allows insurance companies to charge tobacco users 20% more than non-tobacco users.
Who Is Selling Insurance on the Arkansas Health Connector? Five carriers have applied to offer plans through the Marketplace: Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield; National Blue Cross Blue Shield Multi-state Plan; Celtic Insurance Company/NovaSys Health; QCA Health Plan d/b/a QualChoice of Arkansas; United Security Life & Health Insurance of Bedford, Ill.