Many Arkansans Lack Health Coverage Despite Eligibility for Medicaid, Subsidies

January 8, 2021


Elizabeth (Izzy) Montgomery, MPA
Policy Analyst

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More than 80,000 Medicaid-eligible Arkansans and 100,000 subsidy-eligible Arkansans remained uninsured in 2018 despite available coverage options and financial assistance, as highlighted in our newly updated “Data Watch: Coverage Statistics” infographic. The infographic explores health insurance coverage in Arkansas as of 2018, including county- and state-level data on premium tax credits, tax penalties, and the uninsured.

In 2018, the last year that the healthcare tax penalty was in effect, the percentage of Arkansans paying a penalty for not having coverage ranged from 1.6% (Lafayette County) to 4.6% (Clay County). The average annual tax credit received by Arkansans to purchase health insurance ranged from $4,717 (Poinsett County) to $7,255 (Van Buren County). Premium tax credits are available to Arkansans with incomes between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to reduce their monthly premium payments for coverage. Due to the state’s adoption of Medicaid expansion in 2013, Arkansans with incomes up to 138% FPL are eligible for coverage through the state’s Arkansas Works program.

Although significant progress has been made in expanding coverage, some counties continue to experience uninsured rates of 15% or higher. Uninsured rates at the county level in 2018 ranged from 8.1% (Grant County) to 22% (Sevier County). Compared to surrounding states, Arkansas had the second-lowest statewide uninsured rate at 11.8%, slightly behind Louisiana, the only other Southern state to have expanded Medicaid. For Arkansas to reduce further the number of its uninsured residents, robust outreach and education efforts are necessary to ensure that eligible Arkansans are aware of their options to obtain coverage.

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