Report: 1,400 Arkansans enrolled in plans via federal insurance marketplace site

LITTLE ROCK — A new federal report states that 1,400 Arkansans had enrolled in health insurance plans through the federal government’s health insurance marketplace website by Nov. 30.

Arkansans had submitted nearly 18,000 applications for insurance through the federal website by the end of last month, according to a report issued Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The total number of people, including family members, seeking coverage was about 34,600.

The report shows that enrollment picked up in November. By Oct. 30, just 250 Arkansans had enrolled in plans through the federal website, which was plagued with technical problems when it debuted on Oct. 1.

“I was very pleased that more Arkansans were able during the month of November to apply and shop and enroll in insurance,” said Heather Haywood, spokeswoman for the state Insurance Department. “We had a really good increase of people that are enrolled, and we had a really good increase of people that completed their application.”

At recent enrollment events held around the state, “we’re hearing reports (that) consumers are going all the way through the process, so is getting better and consumers are now able to enroll,” she said.

State insurance officials have projected that 211,000 Arkansans will enroll in plans through before the enrollment period ends on March 31. The deadline to apply for coverage that will be effective Jan. 1 is Dec. 23. Coverage will begin later in 2014 for people who apply after the Dec. 23 deadline.

The numbers released by the federal government Wednesday do not include Arkansans who have enrolled in the private option, the state’s plan to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance through the marketplace for low-income Arkansans.

As of Dec. 2, the state Department of Human Services had received applications to enroll just over 77,700 people in the private option, and a little over 59,200 had completed the process, according to DHS spokeswoman Amy Webb.

DHS has projected that between 200,000 and 250,000 people will enroll in the private option.

The federal government said Wednesday that about 137,000 people nationwide had enrolled in plans via the federal website by the end of last month and that nearly 227,500 had enrolled in plans in the 14 states and the District of Columbia where the marketplaces are state-run, for a total nationwide enrollment of about 365,000.

The national total is less than a third of the 1.2 million Americans the Obama administration originally projected would enroll by the end of November. Arkansas officials said they did not make month-to-month enrollment projections.