If you are on Arkansas Medicaid for your health coverage (also called Arkansas Works, formerly called the Private Option), you may have heard about some changes that will start June 1.
The Arkansas Legislature has imposed a work requirement for some people on Arkansas Works. Unless you have an exemption (see list below) you must work at a job or work-related activity and report it every month. This must be done to keep your Arkansas Works health insurance. The work requirement is only for those covered by private insurance that is subsidized by Medicaid.
Arkansas Works health insurance is a valuable benefit for people between the ages of 19-64. People who are eligible for Arkansas Works will be enrolled in one of these three programs:
- A Qualified Health Plan is private, not government, insurance that lets you choose the plan that best meets your needs.
- The plan where you work (called an Employer Sponsored Insurance or ESI) that is partly sponsored by your employer. If it is available to you, you must enroll in this plan.
- Medicaid is the best option for some people who are very ill with chronic or long-term conditions, or too frail or sick to take care of themselves. They will be covered by original Medicaid, so they can get other services to help manage their health problems.
With each of these plans, you may be responsible for copayments for doctor visits, drugs and some other medical services. Some people may have to pay a small part of the premium.
The new work requirement starts June 1 for people between the ages of 30-49. In 2019, it will start for people between the ages of 19-29. People age 50 or older will not be included. Work requirements include one or more of the following:
- Have a job where you work at least 80 hours per month, making at least $8.50 per hour, before taxes are taken out of your check. Your work hours can be spaced out during the month as long as your job pays at least minimum wage and you work at least 80 hours per month. If you earn less, you must combine your work with any of the following:
- Go to school, job training, vocational training or other education
- Volunteer in your community; volunteer jobs listed at volunteerar.org
- Look for a job on your own or go to an Arkansas Workforce Center’s free job search training at dws.arkansas.gov or call toll free 1-855-225-4440
- Go to a health education class – visit access.arkansas.gov
- Meet your SNAP Employment and Training work plan
You do NOT have to work (it’s called having an exemption) or report work to the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) if at least one of these statements applies to you:
- Age 50 or older
- Get TEA cash assistance
- Get unemployment benefits
- Work at least 80 hours per month, making at least Arkansas’ minimum wage
- Have a disability like being blind or using a wheelchair
- Have a child in the home who is age 18 or younger; the child must also have health insurance for you to qualify for Arkansas Works insurance (children ages 0-18 may be eligible for ARKids First health insurance)
- Are pregnant or were pregnant in the last 60 days
- Take care of a person who cannot care for him- or herself
- Have short-term disability and cannot work
- Enrolled in a drug- or alcohol-treatment program
- Go to school, vocational training or full-time job training
- Have a “good cause” why you cannot do 80 hours of work or work-related activities due to an emergency or life-threatening event, such as a hospitalization or natural disaster. You must request a good-cause exemption from your local DHS county office
You must report you have one of these exemptions and which exemption you have at www.access.arkansas.gov. DHS will mail you a letter telling you what to do next. Always read mail from DHS right away.
You are required to report your work and/or other work-related activity by the fifth day of every month to www.access.arkansas.gov. For example, if your work starts in June, you must report by July 5.
After answering the voter registration question, click on Arkansas Works Log-in. Then, click on Arkansas Works – Report Work Activity/Exemption. The first time you log in you must set up an account, and create a user name and password. You will need your user name and password every time you log in. If you need help, call 1-855-372-1084.
If you do not report your work for three months in any one calendar year you are non-compliant. This means you will lose your Arkansas Works insurance. It will stop at the end of the third month you are non-compliant. You will not be able to get Arkansas Works insurance for the rest of the year.
Be sure to report to your local DHS county office or online, any changes in your work, family size or other changes that affect your Arkansas Works eligibility. You must do this within 10 days of the change. It’s a good idea to be sure DHS has your current email address. Some people on Medicaid are now required to have an email address.
If you have access to a computer or smart phone you can get a free email address by going to Gmail (Google) or Yahoo. Follow the instructions to set up your address. DHS will be sending alerts and other information to your email address. You will need to check it regularly.
Starting May 1, AFMC will be calling every client who is affected by the new work requirement. Trained specialists will walk you through the set-up process for your Access Arkansas account and answer your questions. They can help with understanding your work requirement status, see their compliance information and direct you to resources to help meet the requirement.
For more information about Arkansas Works, visit afmc.org/individuals; then click on the “Arkansans on Arkansas Works” link.