Insurance Commissioner Hesitant About Exchange in Miss.By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Jun 2013 06:56am |
Mississippi's insurance commissioner is expressing concern that the federal government's health insurance exchange won't work in the state. Insurance commissioner Mike Chaney doubts the marketplace for private insurance plans will be ready for business by October.
The October deadline for the online insurance market, known as an exchange, is important because that is when Mississippians can change insurance or enroll in new plans.
According to the federal health care reform law, most Mississippians will be required to have some form of health insurance next year.
The federal Government is administering the exchange and Commissioner Mike Chaney says he is worried Mississippians will not be able to find quality, affordable insurance.
"The state has not authority, I wan to repaeat, no authority to regulate rates. We do not regulate plans. We have very limited abilty to answer complaints. We will try to intervene when we can to help citizens. We are not going to stick our head in the sand I want to make that very clear," Chaney said.
An estimated 275,000 Mississippians will turn to the exchange to insurance....that's 11-percent of residents currently without coverage.
Chaney fears there will be a lack of choice of residents because, so far, only one company has been cleared to sell polices on the exchange in Mississippi.
"At the present time, we only have one company that will be on the federal exchange and that is Magnolia Health Care. That is part of Centene out of Massachusetts. We just don't see a lot of people going to the exchange at this time," Chaney said
Mississippi submitted a plan to run its own exchange but it was rejected in part because Governor Phil Bryant opposed it...a decision he says he stands behind.
"It was going to be a disaster. It is. I don't believe the federal government is going to have the process where it should be and it is a good thing they won't be able to blame Mississippi for it," Bryant said.
Some states with more competitive insurance marketplaces have released the rates for their plans and they have come in much lower than earlier expectations.
Low and moderate income Mississippians will also be eligible for subsidies to help pay for the insurance, further lowering its price and capping it to no more than 10-percent of their income.
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