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70% of Mississippians Know ‘Little’ or ‘Nothing’ About Health Insurance Exchange

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 21 Feb 2014 05:54pm | comments

7 out of 10 Mississippians say they know little or nothing about the new health insurance exchange. That's according to a survey done by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, the low awareness might be contributing to the low number of people signing up....

Just over 17-thousand Mississippians have picked a plan on the exchange as of the end of January.

But that is out of an estimated 275-thousand who are eligible to buy the federally-subsidized private insurance plans.

A survey done by the Center for Mississippi Health policy finds that 70-percent of all Mississippians, and an even higher percentage of the uninsured, don't know about the exchange option.

Therese Hannah, the executive director of the center for health policy, says that could be do to a lack of out reach in the state.

"Other research will show you that enrollment is almost directly corralated to the amount of outreach and education that goes. There is a little bit going on now. If you want to increase enrollment you have to increase out reach and education," Hannah said.

Hannah says the survey also found 71-percent of Mississippians support giving subsidies to help poorer people purchase insurance...which a main feature of the exchange.

At a recent enrollment event in Jackson, Jerry Lewis an uninsured truck driver, says he is taking his time before picking a plan.

"If there are some options we miss by rushing. It is not going to benefit me meet. So she is going to set me an appointment for next week and then I will know where I am at," Lewis said.

Second district congressman Bennie Thompson, the state's only congressional Democrat, says it will take time for residents of the state to embrace the exchange.

"Well it is a new program. Obviously with anything new it takes time. We will push some success stories out about participation. And encourage people to take advantage of it," Thompson said.

The survey also found that 64-percent of all Mississippians support expanding Medicaid to cover everyone up to the federal poverty level.

That is option to the state and is opposed by the Republican leadership and the Governor who say it would be too expensive even with the federal government paying most of the cost.

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