Affordable Care Act Application Will Open for Arkansans

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At midnight Tuesday (Oct. 1) the online sign up process under the Affordable Care Act begins. It's estimated that half a million Arkansans are uninsured.

For months area clinics, departments and organizations have been training in-person assisters to help people enroll.

"The in-person assisters are the people that are advising uninsured Arkansans about their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act," said Aaron Randall with the Economic Opportunity Agency (EOA) in Washington County.

Randall is an in-person assister guide program manager. He said if the government shuts down, it won't affect the Affordable Care Act.

"I think there is public perseption that it will," Randall said. "Obamacare won't be affected at all come midnight tonight the Marketplace will be online ready to go."

There are five assisters training at Community Clinic in Springdale. Tyler Clark, community development manager, said they have been training for three months.

People can sign up online starting Tuesday. However, if someone needs guidance through the process, that person will need to wait a couple of weeks, according to Clark.

He said in-person assisters in Arkansas aren't licensed yet, but will be in a few weeks.

"There will eventually be people available in person to help people enroll in English and Spanish after we go through the final process of being licensed," Clark said.

The Arkansas Insurance Department rolled out estimated premium prices. For example, a 30 year-old individual could pay an average of $285 a month. For two 40 year-old adults with two children, the average cost could be $950 a month.

However, the estimated prices could be much lower with several available tax credits.

"The key for understanding the private option and the Affordable Care Act in general is to have as much information as possible," Clark said.

The cost depends on age, tobacco use, family size and income.

Places in Northwest Arkansas that offer help in the process are EOA of Washington County, Hispanic Women's Organization of Arkansas, Community Clinic and the Health Departments in Benton and Washington Counties.

Even though enrollment begins Tuesday, coverage will start until January 1st. The deadline for open enrollment is March 31st.