Health insurance service rep explains new law

About 20 people attended a Tuesday night presentation by the Arkansas Health Connector insurance marketplace service at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Shannon Borchert of Stuttgart, a public health educator with the Arkansas Department of Health, told attendees everyone must have health care insurance after Jan. 1, 2014, to comply with the federal Affordable Health Care Act. Borchert said more than 500,000 Arkansans — including 15,487 Jefferson County residents — are currently uninsured.

She said it’s hoped that citizens can utilize their Health Connector training to avoid anticipated insurance scams.

Borchert pointed out that those who don’t acquire insurance in accordance with AHCA will face financial penalties. The marketplace service’s enrollment period will begin on Oct. 1 and end on March 31, 2014***.

Plans offered through the service are approved by the Arkansas Insurance Department and will provide coverage in 10 essential health benefits, which include:

• Outpatient services;

• Emergency room services;

• Maternity and newborn care;

• Mental health and substance use services;

• Prescription drugs;

• Rehabilitative and habilitative services;

• Laboratory services;

• Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and

• Pediatric services, including dental and vision care.

Beginning Jan. 1, no one can be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Laws already dictate that lifetime limits can’t be placed on health care benefits, preventive services — such as annual wellness checks, mammograms and colonoscopies — will be available at no cost to the insured, and children may stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26.

Coverage costs will depend on family income, household size and other factors.

Licensed guides, agents, brokers and navigators can provide enrollment assistance through the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas Health Care Foundation, Future Builders Inc., Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare System Inc., Living and Affected Corporation and Tri-County Rural Health.

Enrollment may be completed on-line, by telephone, by mail or in person.

A list of enrollment aides can be found online at ARHealthConnector.Org. For more details, telephone 855-283-3483 toll-free.

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***This article has been updated from its original version because of an incorrect date.