Arkansas Healthcare Signups Far Short

Published 11/14 2013 08:05AM

Updated 11/14 2013 08:15AM

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- It's estimated half a million Arkansans are uninsured. On Wednesday, we learned that just 250 have been able to enroll in health insurance on since it launched more than a month ago.

That number is far below expectations, but it's not the number the Arkansas Department of Insurance is focusing on.

The Department of Health and Human Services released Arkansas' enrollment data for individuals who have completed applications to obtain health insurance through the new Health Insurance Marketplace. More than 14,000 have applied but with less than two percent of them completing the process, some look to

When many people we talked to heard the numbers, there seemed to be a bit of a consensus. People called it a mess; a debacle.

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford looks to the launch of not going as expected.

"We would have hoped that there were more people able to get all the way through the system," he said. "That start up was as rough as it could possibly be. We were more or less shocked that the system wasn't working properly."

Could that be what's limiting enrollment numbers this soon?

Arkansas actually did better at states comparable in size.

Arkansas had 250 people signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Iowa came in at 136 with Mississippi at 148.

"We don't like to be compared to Mississippi, but the demographics are somewhat similar," Bradford joked. "We usually beat them every time, except in football this year."

That's beside the point, of course, but according to the Insurance Department, most numbers on the map are a far cry from expectations.

"Certainly they're way behind their original projections," Bradford added.

Bradford says however, the number to focus on isn't those who have completed the process, it's those that have at least started it.

"When I see that 14,000 people have completed the application that is somewhat encouraging for me," he said.

Bradford calls it moving in the right direction.

And it's not all bad news for Arkansas. Bradford says the low number doesn't take into account the nearly 50,000 who've signed up for the private option here in the state.

Arkansas's Private Option is catching nationwide attention in light of the health care website problems.

An article in the Atlantic calls Arkansas "the state where 'Obamacare' is working" suggesting the Natural State's new law could serve as a model for the country.

(story contributed by KARK, Little Rock)

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