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Few Employees Enroll in Arkansas Limited-Benefit Health Insurance

Armen Hareyan's picture

ARHealthNet - an Arkansas health insurance program that provides subsidized health coverage to low-income workers at small businesses, "has been slow to gain steam," with fewer than 700 people enrolled in the program since it launched in December 2006, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (Manthey, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/10).

Under the ARHealthNet Arkansas health insurance program, established by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, employers must pay $15 monthly for participating employees with annual incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level and $100 monthly for higher-income employees. Employees in the program must pay annual deductibles of $100 and 15% of the cost of services, with maximum out-of-pocket costs of $1,000 annually.

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The program each year will cover six physician visits, seven days of inpatient hospital care and two outpatient hospital procedures or emergency department visits, as well as two prescriptions monthly. The program does not provide catastrophic coverage.

The state funds the program in part with $18 million in proceeds from the 1998 national tobacco settlement that will be disbursed over five years. The federal government contributes 82 cents of each dollar spent by the state for employees with children and 73 cents of each dollar spent for those without children (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 3/8/06).

Since December 2006, the AFHealthnet Arkansas Health Insurance program has insured 665 low-income workers at 178 businesses. State officials had expected the program to cover 80,000 residents by the end of 2008, but such a goal by that date "appears unlikely," according to the Democrat-Gazette. The department has spent about $200,000 on advertisements to increase awareness about the program, and an additional $200,000 is available for the current fiscal year. Officials expect that participation will increase once more residents are aware of the program (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.