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Arkansas uninsured face Monday deadline to sign up for coverage effective Jan. 1

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A key deadline for thousands of uninsured Arkansans who are seeking coverage under the federal health care law is approaching.

Monday marks the last day to purchase insurance plans through the health marketplace set up under the law for those who want benefits to begin with the new year. The state says nearly 40,000 people are already enrolled in the marketplace.

Open enrollment began in November and ends Feb. 15. Residents can enroll in the health marketplace and renew or change their plans during this period.


HOW TO SIGN UP:

Consumers can learn about their options through the federal website, http://www.healthcare.gov. Arkansans can view the different plans and prices available in their areas. Charts listing premiums, benefits, deductibles, co-payments and other details can be found at ahc.arkansas.gov.

You can still sign up for coverage after Monday, but it will take effect later. Enrollments from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 would take effect Feb. 1. Enrollments Jan. 16 to Feb. 15 would take effect March 1.

ENROLLEES:

Nearly 40,000 people are enrolled in marketplace plans as of Dec. 1, according to the Arkansas Insurance Department. Additionally, more than 213,000 people have completed enrollment in the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private plans for the newly eligible.


HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

The Arkansas Insurance Department says Arkansans with plans purchased through the exchange on average pay $94 a month out of pocket toward their premiums and receive a monthly tax credit of $293.

The department earlier this year projected a net decrease of 2 percent in premium costs for 2015 for plans purchased on the exchange.


GETTING THE WORD OUT:

State officials have been limited in promoting enrollment after the Legislature voted to bar Arkansas agencies from spending public money to promote enrollment in the federal health law. The restriction was included as a compromise to win support for reauthorizing the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion.

Several health advocacy groups launched a new coalition, Arkansans for Coverage, aimed at helping people connect with the health insurance marketplace and the expanded Medicaid program. The coalition has said it hopes to fill the void left by the Legislature's restriction.

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