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Zero- and Low-Premium Health Insurance Newly Available to Many Arkansans

July 16, 2021

Author

Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer
501-526-2244
JBWessel@achi.net

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Many uninsured or underinsured Arkansans can now access plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace with no premiums or premiums of $50 or less per month, according to an issue brief released by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). More specifically, 58% of uninsured adult Arkansans can enroll in a plan for $0, and 69% of those currently enrolled can get a plan for $0.

Since 2014, Arkansans with household incomes between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) have been able to access federal subsidies to help with the purchase of health insurance coverage. That FPL range is currently between $17,774 and $51,520 for an individual and between $36,570 and $106,000 for a family of four.

In addition to removing the income eligibility limit previously set at 400% of the FPL, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021 lowered the required contribution toward premiums, meaning that additional federal financial assistance is available. In fact, some Arkansans at the lower end of the FPL range may be able to get insurance for $0. Note that adults earning below 138% of the FPL are eligible for the state’s Medicaid expansion program. For those with incomes above 400% of the FPL, premium contributions are capped at no more than 8.5% of their household income. The changes are temporary and last only two years (2021 and 2022).

The tables below compare the availability of zero-premium and low-premium ($50 or less per month) plans before and after the ARP’s implementation.

Source: ASPE. The table shows the availability of plans for any metal tier.[1]

  • Arkansas had the highest percentage point difference for the availability of zero-premiums plans for the uninsured among the 36 states assessed.
  • Arkansas had the seventh-highest percentage point difference for the availability of low-premium plans for the uninsured among the 36 states assessed.

Source: ASPE. The table shows the availability of plans for any metal tier.

  • Arkansas had the highest percentage point difference for the availability of zero-premiums plans for those currently enrolled among the 36 states assessed.
  • Arkansas had the second-highest percentage point difference for the availability of low-premium plans for those currently enrolled among the 36 states assessed.

Individuals and families can enroll or switch plans now through Aug. 15 during a special enrollment period opened in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arkansans can shop for plans at HealthCare.gov and get local assistance at myARinsurance.com.