Arkansas Insurance Department Prepares for Affordable Care Act

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jun. 17, 2013 12:00 am  

A division of the Arkansas Insurance Department is preparing to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.

This month, 600 or more workers are expected to be hired to march into communities to inform Arkansans about details including health care exchanges under the ACA, also known as Obamacare, that go into effect Jan. 1.

“Most of your citizens and residents don’t really know about this yet,” said Cynthia Crone, who leads the Insurance Department’s Health Benefits Exchange Partnership division.

“They don’t know how they will access it or what it will mean for them.”

Small-business owners also don’t know much about the impact of ACA, according to a recent survey by eHealth Inc. of Mountain View, Calif.

The survey found that almost a third of the respondents incorrectly believed that they would be required to provide group health insurance in 2014.

And nearly a quarter incorrectly believed that they will be required to pay a penalty if they fail to provide group coverage in 2014, according to the survey of 259 small-business owners conducted in February.

“Just like the individuals, the small-business owners need a lot of education,” Crone said.

“We’ll be working with some of our guides to reach small business.”

According to the eHealth survey, nearly two-thirds of the business owners admit to not understanding exchanges at all.

The Arkansas Insurance Department will issue contracts with community organizations and those organizations will be responsible for hiring the workers. The guides will be paid with money from a federal grant.

Crone said the guides will speak at community events, churches and other gatherings to explain about the exchanges and what’s at stake if they don’t have health insurance.

Under ACA, people could face penalties if they don’t have insurance starting Jan. 1.



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