Mississippi is on its way to developing one of the nation's first health insurance exchange programs. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how many groups are watching closely as the state builds the insurance marketplace.

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Groups Watching as Mississippi Develops Insurance Exchange

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Apr 2012 02:28pm | comments

Mississippi is on its way to developing one of the nation's first health insurance exchange programs. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how many groups are watching closely as the state builds the insurance marketplace.

Estimates say when the health insurance exchange is implemented, nearly 300 thousand Mississippians will be eligible to enroll. The exchange is part of the Affordable Health Care Act, and Therese Hanna, Executive Director of the Mississippi Center for Health Policy says those developing the program have a lot of work and not much time to get it done.

"It's really close. The state has to apply by January 1st, 2013 to operate our own exchange so the state is working now to set up an advisory board and set up a structure in place to be able to operate it by the deadline."

If the state doesn't apply with its own plan on time, the federal government will step in and impose a plan, but Mississippi is ahead of most states developing an exchange. Robert Pugh is on the advisory board for the program. He says the goal is to provide stress-free access to health insurance.

"It will be easy to access and will help individuals, employees, employers, and families make real informed decisions about their health plan choices."

Some looking on have concerns. Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald is with the Children's Defense Fund. She's worried low-income children will be removed from their previous Child Health Insurance Program, or CHIP and placed onto their parents' plan, which could vastly increase insurance costs for some families.

"These families and these children who were generally uninsured until they got in CHIP because the families could not afford health care...that's why we're so concerned about that group. That group of children and making sure those children don't get harmed."

The Health Care Exchange is scheduled to go into effect January 1st, 2014.

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