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Insurance

More than 12,000 Arkansans had selected health insurance plans through the federal government’s health insurance marketplace website by Dec. 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a report released Monday.

Monday’s report showing that 12,763 Arkansans had selected plans reflects a significant increase in activity since federal officials released a previous report showing that just 1,400 Arkansans had selected plans by Nov. 30. Nationwide, 2.15 million people had selected plans by Dec. 28, according to Monday’s report.

Monday’s report also shows that 45,877 Arkansans had completed applications for insurance, with the applications seeking coverage for 66,693 people. Of the 12,763 Arkansans who had selected plans, 88 percent obtained financial assistance.

The report shows that 22 percent of Arkansans who have selected plans are age 34 or younger, 15 percent are age 35-44 and 63 percent are age 45 or older.

Flu

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be a severe one and is affecting young adults in higher numbers than usual, making it critical for people who have not obtained flu vaccinations to do so, state health officials said Monday.

During last year’s flu season, which was the worst Arkansas had seen in 35 years, 61 people died, 10 percent of them between the ages of 25 and 50, Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist and the state Health Department’s medical director for communicable disease, said in a news conference at the department’s headquarters.

Haselow said the average age of Arkansans who died of the flu last season was 69. In contrast, of the 15 flu deaths reported in the state so far this season, seven, or nearly 50 percent, have been between the ages of 25 and 50; the average age of the victims has been 42.

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