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Exchange Enrollment Push Heating Up

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 15 Nov 2013 05:39pm | comments
A Humana insurance bus

Efforts to enroll uninsured Mississippians in the health insurance exchange are beginning to hit high gear in Mississippi. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the federal web site is still causing problems but some in the state are starting to see prices and options that are available to them.

Non-profit groups and insurers are hosting a growing number of outreach events statewide to sign Mississippians up for plans.

One insurance company, Humana, has launched two specially equipped busses that have Internet access and agents on board who can fully enroll Mississippians.

Standing beside one bus, Humana's Stacey Carter says the goal is to generate grass roots interest in the exchange.

"We will be at Wal-Marts. At some CVS's in the first quarter. We will be at gas stations. So it is really kind of what that community felt would be a good place to visit. And we are working on some churches as well," Carter said.

Carter acknowledges that enrollment is still difficult, but says people are enrolling as the web site improves.

Lonnie Ross is uninsured with a wife and three children, are finally getting a chance to look at the plans and prices that they can purchase on the exchange.

Ross says after 15 years of being without insurance he was surprised at his options.

"Oh, I was very impressed. I am kind of excited. So I hope it works out. I hope it is what they say. I am right in my range 150-200 (dollars a month). So that is really good. And it might even get better. As I get to the point of signing up, the subsidy could even be a little bit higher," Ross said.

At a Humana bus stop in Natchez, Marie Dillon found out that she can qualify for insurance that will cover the medicine for her chronic lung condition that she has been skipping for the last year.

"I am excited about it. I feel like I can afford health insurance now. At one time I couldn't. Just based on my medical condition they wanted over 500-dollars a month to get medical insurance. But with this it is going to cost me anywhere between 25-and-50 bucks a month," Dillon said.

But the access to plan information is also bringing startling news to some of the poorest residents of the state.

They are being left without any help purchasing insurance because they make too little income to qualify for subsidies, and do not qualify for Medicaid because the state choose not to expand its program.

While enrollment runs through the end of March, Mississippians must sign up by December 15th in order for plans to kick in at the start of the year.


A Humana insurance bus



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