More than 70,000 Arkansas children are getting free or low-cost health care through an Arkansas program called ARKids First. These kids get preventive care and other services to give them a healthy start in life. Healthy children are more likely to grow into healthy, happy and productive adults.

Although no one knows what Congress may do with health care repeal or reform, ARKids First is in place now. Important health benefits and care are available to your children right now. The sooner you enroll your children, the more benefits they can receive. If benefits change in the future, at least they will have some services now. It can make a lifetime of difference to a child.

Are the children in your life – family, neighbor kids, kids you know at church – getting the healthy start they need? Learn how to make ARKids First available to them and be a positive change in their lives.

ARKids First, funded by Arkansas’ Medicaid program, is for children whose parents may not be able to afford health insurance. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) operates ARKids First. Medicaid is a federal and state-funded health insurance program for families with limited incomes.

Part A or B?

ARKids First has two parts. Part A is Medicaid for children whose families have limited incomes. Part B provides health services for the children of families with higher incomes.

Part A has no premiums to pay. Nor will you have to pay any deductibles or copayments.

Part B has no premiums or deductibles to pay. However, you will make a small copayment (usually $10) for certain doctor visits. There is a limit on how much you have to pay out of your own pocket. The Part B limit is 5 percent of the family’s yearly gross income (before taxes are taken out).

Who is eligible?

  • ARKids First covers children ages birth until their 19th Part A includes coverage for qualifying parents under age 19. Qualifying adults age 19 and older may be covered separately under regular Medicaid or Arkansas Works (formerly called the Private Option).
  • The yearly gross income of the child’s family determines eligibility. Income eligibility does not include assets such as cars, boats, homes, furniture, land, jewelry or other things of value.
  • If the family income for a two-person household, such as a mom and one child, is less than $23,060.76 per year, the child is eligible for Part A. For each additional person in the household, add $5,935.56 to the income limit.
  • For Part B, the two-person household income must be $34,266.36 or less to be eligible. For each additional person, add $8,819.76 to the income limit.
  • ARKids First B is only available if the child’s parents/guardians do not have group health insurance through their job and the child has not had insurance for at least 90 days. If the parents/guardian lost insurance involuntarily, the child may be eligible immediately for ARKids First.

Services include:

ARKids First provides a comprehensive package of benefits.

  • It starts with finding your child a primary care physician (PCP), if he or she does not already have one. A PCP is the main doctor you see for check-ups and when you get sick. Your PCP knows your health history and what you need to stay healthy. Pediatricians are PCPs for children.
  • Some ARKids services include doctor visits, emergency ambulance, dental services (including braces if they are pre-approved), eye care and glasses, durable medical equipment like a wheelchair, hospital admission, lab tests and X-rays, mental health services, prescription drugs, preventive health screenings, shots, speech, occupational and physical therapy, and more.
  • For many of the services, your PCP must make a referral or write a prescription before you can get other benefits, such as seeing a specialist.
  • After your child is accepted into either Part A or B, you will receive an ARKids First card. Always carry the card with you so there are no delays in your child’s health services.

How to apply/enroll

The application and enrollment process is easy and quick. The same form is used for both Parts A and B. The DHS will determine for which part your child is eligible.

Enroll using one of these options:

  • Apply online. Select the yellow bar for ARKids First. You’ll create your own personal account and choose a username and password. Application and instructions are also available in Spanish.
  • Call toll-free at 1-888-474-8275 (weekdays, between 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) to get an application sent to you. You do not have to visit a DHS office.
  • Visit the DHS county office in the county where you live and pick up an application. The staff can answer your questions or help you complete it. Complete the application and return it to your local county office.
  • You will need documentation to prove your children’s ages (a birth certificate or passport). If they are not U.S. citizens, you will need proof of their alien status. You will also need proof of your income and the Social Security numbers for all family members.

Don’t miss out

To keep your child eligible for health care services, you will need to renew both ARKids A and B. You will receive a letter telling you when to renew. The easiest way is to renew online, or you may renew in person, or by mail. Call the toll-free help line for more information.

For more information


Attend a free beneficiary meeting in your county. The monthly meetings are a big help to people who have Medicaid or ARKids First as their health insurance.

You will learn about:

  • Your Medicaid rights and responsibilities
  • Services your family can receive
  • How to get a ride to medical appointments, if you don’t have any way to get there (Part A only)
  • When to go to the emergency room and when not to go
  • How to find a doctor or dentist
  • How to stay well by regularly seeing your doctor
  • How to get your medicines
  • How to make a complaint about services
  • Limits on Medicaid doctor visits, medicines and lab tests

Trained counselors host the meetings. You will have a chance to ask them questions about medical benefits, Medicaid or the ARKids First program.

Attendees will have a chance to win a $25 Walmart gift card.

Bring your Medicaid or ARKids First cards with you to the meeting. Anyone who needs Medicaid information is welcome to attend.

Be sure you get all your Medicaid and ARKids First benefits by attending a Medicaid Beneficiary meeting. Find the location nearest you and register for a meeting by visiting or call 1-855-275-5948.