Beginning January 1, 2014, U.S. citizens are required to have health insurance - with few exceptions. Key initiatives of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., healthcare reform) are fast approaching October 1.

"These are new initiatives and there will be a lot of surrounding confusion," said Robert Rupp, Harris Hospital CEO. "As a key health provider in Jackson County, [Harris Hospital] would like to provide education to the community in an easy to understand way, as well as help them sign up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and/or assistance with their premiums for medical coverage." Health Insurance Market places Health Insurance Marketplaces will have open enrollment beginning October 1, allowing citizens access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage. Depending on household income, some individuals may be eligible for financial assistance - or subsidies - towards the cost of the premium. All Marketplace plans offer the same set of comprehensive benefits. The best news is that individuals can no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. Some of the essential health benefits include: • Preventive care and wellness services • Doctor visits • Prescription Drugs • Hospital and Emergency Department care • Lab services • Chronic disease management • Pediatric services Medicaid Expansion Arkansas chose to expand Medicaid coverage beginning January 2014. This expansion will increase eligibility limits for adults to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Lever (equivalent to an annual income of about $15,290 for one person). This will open will open Medicaid coverage to a new population, including childless adults, a category of population not currently served by Medicaid. Beginning October 1, Harris Hospital will have qualified staff available to help the members of the community navigate and sign up for one of these programs. Call 870-512-3003 to make an appointment. There will be access to a live interpreter to help with any language barriers. Also, if you would like a speaker to address your group or organization, call 870-512-3081. "While many changes are occurring in healthcare, our commitment to providing quality care remains constant," said Rupp. "We are committed not only to supporting the community's health needs, but also to educating and informing the people we serve."