ARHealthNet, a new program designed to help small businesses offer health insurance to their employees, will be available effective Jan. 1. It will be administered by NovaSys Health and sold by local insurance agents.

ARHealthNet is a partnership of the federal government, the state of Arkansas, and Arkansas businesses designed to address the critical problem of lack of health insurance among working Arkansans. Many small businesses don’t offer insurance because rising health costs make doing so financially unfeasible.

Businesses with two to 500 employees are eligible to participate in ARHealthNet and may not have offered insurance to their employees within the last year. Employees are eligible for the program if they are ages 19-64. Employees with incomes of 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level will be eligible for assistance in paying premiums. Participating employers must cover all their employees through ARHealthNet or show coverage elsewhere.

Among other things, ARHealthNet will carry a $100 annual deductible, which doesn’t apply to office visits or prescriptions. After the deductible is satisfied, a 15 percent co-insurance will be required. There is a $1,000 maximum out of pocket annual cost, including the deductible. The plan will pay for two prescriptions per month on a three-level co-pay basis. ARHealthNet is renewable every 12 months.

Benefits start on the first day of each month (beginning in January 2007) and the cut-off date for enrollment is the 15th day of the previous month. Statewide, 15,000 slots will be available in 2007 for phase one of the program, while a total of 80,000 slots will be available from 2008-2012.

“Access to health care is a critical part of economic security for working Arkansans,” said Angela Duran, President of Southern Good Faith Fund. “ARHealthNet will serve as an excellent resource to help small businesses in Phillips County and throughout the state offer their employees health insurance. ARHealthNet is a prime example of a productive partnership between the public and private sectors in our state.”

The insurance agent contacts for ARHealthNet in Phillips County are:

· Stephanie Foreman, Foreman Benefit Plus in Marianna, (870) 295-2633

· Scooter Gabbie, Farm Bureau, (870)-572-4099

· Bev Hargraves, Hargraves Insurance Agency in Helena-West Helena, (870) 338-3425