Through yesterday, almost 45,000 Arkansans have selected plans on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the new marketplace created by Obamacare, according to information released today by the Arkansas Insurance Department (see county by county map above). Open enrollment is now closed, though people who submitted a paper application by April 7 have until the end of the month to enroll and pick a plan. We may also see this number creep up in the next few weeks as the carriers continue to receive data from the feds.
As in the rest of the country, Arkansas saw a surge in enrollment recently: more than 7,800 people signed up between March 25 and April 7 and then an additional 3,263 people signed up in the last two weeks. But while national enrollment in the marketplaces across the country surpassed initial projections, Arkansas has thus far fallen a little short in 2014. The original target for Arkansas enrollment from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in September 2013 was 51,000 — Arkansas is currently at 87.5 percent of that target. However, enrollment guru Charles Gaba found that an appropriate projection for Arkansas would be 62,000. Arkansas Insurance Department officials had once hoped to enroll more than 100,000, but this was inclusive of the Small Business Health Options Program, which ended up getting delayed significantly.
The 44,655 figure does not include enrollment in the private option, the state’s policy for Medicaid expansion which purchases plans on the Marketplace for folks that make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 for an individual or $33,000 for a family of four). More than 120,000 people and counting have enrolled in Marketplace plans via the private option. For the differences between private option enrollment and the rest of the Marketplace, see this post.
For an explanation of where enrollment stands in comparison to initial projections and targets — and some caveats and explanations about how and why that happened — see here and here. But the core point is that the state appears to have made a massive dent in reducing the number of uninsured adults below 138 percent of the federal poverty poverty, but still has much work to do to reduce the rate of uninsurance for those who make more than 138 percent of FPL. Approximately 209,000 people eligible for the private option were estimated to be uninsured in 2012; more than 150,000 (and counting) people have gained coverage under the private option. Meanwhile, around 250,000 people were estimated to be uninsured in 2012 and make more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, the population that the Marketplace is intended to reach. While no one predicted that all of them would sign up, thus far the 44,665 enrollees represent a little less than 18 percent of that potential target population. See the map below, which shows the percentage of people eligible for the Marketplace (non-private option) who have signed up.
The other thing to note is that the private option beneficiaries currently make up 74 percent of the Marketplace consumers. That number is likely to grow. There are more than 30,000 beneficiaries who are still in the process of picking or being assigned a private plan (around 90 percent of them will go to private plans with the rest being routed to traditional Medicaid if they are found to be medically needy). There are more than 50,000 applicants beyond that still going through the eligibility process. And there is no limited enrollment in the private option — people can sign up year-round. By the end of the year, the portion of the Marketplace made up of private option beneficiaries could well be more than 80 percent.
More good news: the private option pool is leaning significantly younger. Demographic data from AID released today helps illustrate that. Here’s the private option age breakdown released yesterday by DHS (through March 31):
PRIVATE OPTION (people 18 and younger are not eligible for the private option)
19-25: 18 percent
26-34: 25 percent
35-44: 21 percent
44-54: 21 percent
55-64: 15 percent
And here’s the non-private-option Marketplace age breakdown by AID (through April 21):
0-17: 5 percent
18-25: 9 percent
26-34: 16 percent
35-44: 17 percent
45-54: 23 percent
55-64: 30 percent
A major policy victory for the private option has been stabilizing the Marketplace in its first year. As we’ve said many times, while Obamacare opponents might be unhappy about this for partisan or ideological reasons, this is a good thing for any Arkansan shopping on the individual, non-group market. A successful Marketplace with strong enrollment means lower premiums in the long run, more carriers in the state, and more choices for consumers.
Here’s a county-by-county map showing enrollment in the Marketplace (non-private option) as a percentage of estimated eligibles: