Lauren Lewthwaite Last Updated On: August 9, 2023

Why You Need Health Insurance & How to Find the Best Policy

Let’s be frank: the last thing you want on your plate when dealing with a medical emergency, is debt. 

That’s why you need to carry health insurance, so that you’re not blindsided by bills when you’re already dealing with health issues. And this is true across the United States, including the Natural State: Arkansas. 

Keep reading to find out everything you should know about health insurance in the wonderful state of Arkansas, so you can get back to devouring some possum pie or exploring the 600,000 acres of lakes. 

We’ve got you covered.

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Table of Contents

Purchasing Health Insurance in Arkansas

There are several ways to access health insurance in Arkansas: 

  • Through an employer-sponsored plan
  • On the Arkansas health insurance marketplace 
  • Directly from an insurance provider 
  • Through a low-income or disability-based government program

The reason for this variety of health insurance options is so that people in different circumstances can access a plan that is suited to their needs. 

The rest of this article is dedicated to providing specific details about how these health insurance plans work. So keep reading if you want to become the most informed consumer in all of Arkansas! 

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

Approximately 40% of Arkansas residents are insured through their employer. 

Insurance companies give group-rate discounts to employers. If you are working for a company that sponsors health insurance for their employees, chances are you can get a good deal on health insurance coverage. 

Obtaining this insurance plan is simply a matter of following the necessary steps as laid out by your employer. But our pro tip is to take one extra step: research all your options! 

This means:

  • Read the policy/policies offered by your employer to see what they cover
  • Do independent research on marketplace and private insurance plans 
  • Compare rates and coverages to see which is the better deal 
  • Speak with an insurance expert if you need help with your decision

The key to saving on insurance in Arkansas is making informed choices. 

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Marketplace Plans in Arkansas

But not every employer sponsors health insurance. And some people are self-employed

Another way of getting health insurance is on the marketplace. You are eligible to purchase a marketplace plan if you meet the following criteria:

  • Are a US citizen or legal resident
  • Don’t have Medicare
  • Are not incarcerated 

The benefit of marketplace plans is that their prices are regulated by the Affordable Care Act in order to be as accessible as possible. In fact, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 extended eligibility for health insurance subsidies to those making 400% of the federal poverty level. This translates to discounts for the eligible consumer on marketplace health insurance. 

Marketplace Plans Tiers

There are three main types of marketplace health insurance plans that are categorized by “metal tiers.” These metal tiers are just a way of describing how the pricing of the plan works.  For instance:
  • Bronze Plans have low premiums and high deductibles 
  • Gold Plans have low deductibles and high premiums 
  • And Silver Plans lie right in the middle 
You have the flexibility to choose the health plan tier that works for your coverage needs and your budget. 

Enrolling in Arkansas Marketplace Plans

Once you’ve found the best health insurance on the Arkansas marketplace for your needs, here comes the simple task of enrolling.  The open enrollment period on the Arkansas marketplace is the time of year that anyone in the state can purchase a marketplace plan.  The open enrollment period begins on October 15th and ends on December 7th each year.  You may be eligible to enroll at a different time of the year if you undergo a major life event. A special enrolment period is triggered under the following circumstances: 
  • Change in location 
  • Change in family size 
  • Major income change
  • Loss of current health insurance 
  • Loss of job 
  • Marriage
  • Divorce 
  • Gaining new citizenship 
  • Etc.
When you enroll in your marketplace plan, you will need to provide:
  • Date of Birth 
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Home/mailing address 
  • Employer and income information
  • Details on any other health insurance policy you may have 
Enrolling on time is important, because it means you’ll have the coverage you need when you need it. Otherwise, you could get stuck paying for coverage out of pocket and no one wants to do that!

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Non-Exchange Health Insurance Plans

Keep in mind, you don’t have to purchase your health insurance from the marketplace. Private insurance companies offer Arkansas residents a range of health insurance plans sold off the exchange. 

The benefit of private health insurance is the scope of health insurance available. If you are able to pay more in premiums, these plans can offer you extensive coverage. 

But the downside of these plans is that you cannot qualify for those health insurance subsidies that are available on the marketplace. It’s important to weigh your coverage needs with your budget to see which route is best for you. 

Government-Sponsored Health Insurance in Arkansas

The state of Arkansas offers a variety of sponsored health insurance plans for citizens in need.  Here’s a breakdown of what types of plans are offered, and how they work:
  • Medicaid:
    • Offered to residents making less than the federal poverty level and who are (at least) one of the following:
      • Pregnant
      • Responsible for a minor 
      • 65 years of age or above 
      • Disabled
    • Arkansas Works
      • A branch of Medicaid for low-income adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who make between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level
      • May pay a minimal monthly premium and/or copays 
      • Recipients are referred to Arkansas Division of Workforce Services for free job assistance services
    • ARKids A:
      • Medicaid coverage for children in low-income families 
      • Range of coverages from vision care to x-rays, dental and more
      • Certain coverages may need a referral from a primary care physician (PCP)
    • ARKids B:
      • For children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid, but are unable to purchase separate insurance 
      • Will need to make copayments for prescriptions and some medical care, but not preventative care
    • Medicare:
      • For people aged 65 years of age or older 
      • Also for those with specific disabilities such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or End Stage Renal Disease
      • Part A covers inpatient care
      • Part B covers outpatient care
      • Can purchase Part C (aka Medicare Advantage) for a personalized plan
      • Part D covers prescription drugs
    These programs ensure access to affordable health coverage for all Arkansas residents. Eligibility by program varies, but checking to see if you’re eligible can get you great coverage at an affordable rate. 

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The Average Cost of Health Insurance in Arkansas

As you can likely guess by the sheer variety of health insurance plans available in the state, the price of health insurance in Arkansas will vary greatly. Some of those government-sponsored plans are free of charge, while a top-of-the-line policy purchased privately will cost a good chunk of change. 

To give you a general baseline, here’s the expected price for a middle-of-the-line health insurance plan: 

  • A silver tier marketplace plan costs around $411 monthly

While this number certainly can’t describe all of the health insurance costs in Arkansas, it does act as a point of reference so you can plan accordingly.

Explore Arkansas Health Insurance Plans Today

You deserve great health insurance coverage, whether you live in Little Rock, Jonesboro, or Fayetteville. Being proactive about your health and finding the right plan can ensure you have the coverage you need before you actually need it. 

A great way to ensure you are finding the best health insurance in Arkansas is by speaking with an insurance expert. Their depth of knowledge can help you determine what health insurance is right for you. 

Start by getting a sense of your options and costs with access to free quotes here. Great coverage awaits!


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