(KATV) When President Obama spoke to the nation Thursday and said Americans could keep their current health insurance plans for another year, there was no sigh of relief in Arkansas because that idea had already in place for months.
"We fumbled the rollout on this health care law," Obama said, admitting fault with the technical issues on healthcare.gov and that he didn't intend for Americans to be dropped from their insurance plans after promising that would not happen when pitching his health care plan.
"My expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people, either it genuinely wouldn't change at all, or they'd be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace and that the grandfather clause would cover the rest. That proved not to be the case. And that's on me," Obama said.
In March, the Arkansas Insurance Department met with insurers in the state's health exchange and heard concerns that many plans would have to be canceled because they did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
"We were ahead of the curve," said insurance commissioner Jay Bradford. "We did make the decision some months ago to give Arkansans an additional 12 months if they so wanted to make these real important decisions."
Bradford said for many Arkansans, switching to a plan in the exchange will bring more financial benefits to the insured.
"I don't want to rush them to that decision. Some people might look back and say, 'I should have done it on Jan. 1st. I have really a bad claim.' So, there's two sides to this issue, but Arkansans should be thoughtful and I want to give them time to think about it," Bradford said.
Bradford said the delay in some users signing up likely won't hurt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. For the plan to work, a large amount of people have to pay into the market.
"To the best of our knowledge, there's only 70,000 people here that we can develop that may or may not make this 12 month decision, lots of them won't. So as far as that vast impact of numbers, it's gonna only be one year," Bradford said.
One detail that may cause a delay in the law however is the sign up for people who actually want to. Arkansas reported yesterday only 250 people have completed the insurance sign up process. Nationwide, only 106,000 have completed the process, but there are thousands more waiting in the wings who have signed up but have not selected a plan.