Health Matters: Health Insurance Options Based on Where You Live

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Simple answer, at least for this year, depends on where you live. And that's creating some pains for lawmakers who represent areas where choice on health insurance is limited this year.

The Public Health Committee hearing today that some health plans on Arkansas' private option, which include dental and vision coverage, were only offered in densly populated areas of Central and Northwest Arkansas. While the more rural and isolated areas in the Delta received no such options.

The insurance department says next year everyone in the state will have access to the same plans. Answers lawmakers say they need to hear.

"It's very important and it shows the necessity of it and how well the program is doing. I know there have been some cost concerns and some utilization concerns so I think this report will do a whole lot in answering some of those questions," says St. Rep. Reginald Murdock.

For private option enrolees next year, they will not have access to vision or dental coverage, no matter where they live. That will affect a little more than 8,000 private option recipients. Those services not considered part of "essential health benefits" covered by the medicaid funded plan.

Overall, the Department of Human Services says 170,000 people are now signed up for the private option out of a possible 250,000.

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