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1,400 Arkansans sign up under health marketplace

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Around 1,400 Arkansas residents have enrolled in health coverage through the HealthCare.gov website that's in place to facilitate insurance sign-ups as part of the government's health care overhaul, officials said Wednesday.

The report says nearly 18,000 Arkansans completed applications through the new marketplace. When adding in family members who would be covered, the applications totaled about 34,600 people.

The numbers are from activity on the website from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30.

Arkansas Insurance Department spokeswoman Heather Haywood says 250 state residents had enrolled as of Oct. 30 and says the new numbers show the pace is picking up now that the government website is running more efficiently.

"It's a tremendous increase from what was reported in October," Haywood said.

The Insurance Department has been holding sign-up events around the state, including one on Wednesday at Conway Regional Medical Center. The department estimates that 211,000 Arkansans will ultimately sign up for health coverage under the new program.

The Legislature voted to expand the state Medicaid program as part of the health overhaul program.

Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy Webb said Tuesday that as of Monday, 59,203 state residents completed enrollment. As of Nov. 30, 77,734 Arkansans had applied for insurance under the program, commonly known as the private option because applicants are linked with private insurers rather than simply being brought under Medicaid, which is the health program for the poor.