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Health Insurance Exchange Draws Concern from Federal Official

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Jul 2013 09:44am | comments

A high ranking federal official says the government is worried about a shortage of health insurance coverage in Mississippi on the new health insurance exchange. Nearly half of all Mississippi counties will not be covered by the exchange when opens this fall.

 So far, two companies have signed up to sell private health insurance plans on the exchange, but only in 46 of 82 Mississippi counties.

 That's a problem according to the regional administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Dr. Renard Murray.

 Murray says the companies are shying away from certain counties because the low health standards makes them unattractive to insurers.

 "We are working with the plans to ensure adequacy in coverage of all areas. We are hoping that in our negotiations and talking to people we will get more coverage so people will have those options available," Murray said.

 If companies don't want to work on a state level, Murray says a insurers might craft a national level plan that could be sold in those areas.

 The exchange is being run by the federal government and is set to open for enrollment this fall.

 Dr. Murray made the remarks at a health care forum hosted by Congressman Benny Thompson in Jackson yesterday.

 Thompson says if companies want to sell in Mississippi they should sell to all Mississippians.

 "I would not like to see counties cherry picked just because insurance companies can make more money by going to certain counties. The goal is to cover everyone," Thompson said.

 About two dozen people attended the forum including Eric Bluntson who considers the companies decision a form of modern day health insurance 'red-lining'.

 "I have a banking background and in banking it has been an emphasis on being fair and equitable in the basic things of life like house and lending. So I really don't see any difference between health care. Health care is a very important aspect of life and everyone should be able to have access to it," Bluntson said.

 The exchanges are part of the federal health reform law.

 When they open this fall, they will offer private insurance plans that are subsidized by the federal government which is intended to make them more affordable to people who currently don't have insurance.






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