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Insurance Commissioner: State Ready To Run Insurance Exchange

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Nov 2012 05:31pm | comments

Mississippi has one week to answer a key question in the health care reform law....will the state be able to operate an insurance market place known as an exchange? MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports Mississippi is one of few states that is well on its way to operating its own exchange.

An exchange is an online market place where individuals and businesses can shop and compare insurance plans.

As part of the health care reform law, states are required to set up an exchange or the federal government will set one up for them.

The deadline to tell the federal government if a state is ready to run an exchange is next Friday.

Insurance commissioner Mike Chaney says Mississippi is ready to operate its own exchange.

"We have been working on it off and on for over four years. Even before the Affordible Care Act was passed. We pretty well know what has to be in it to qualify. And where we are today is pretty much dotting I's and Crossing T's before we submit," Chaney said.

The exchanges are also a mechanism to determine if a person is eligible for medicaid or federal subsidies individuals can receive to purchase private insurance.

Commissioner Chaney believes they are a key tool to reduce the number of Mississippians without insurance.

"You cannot bury your head in the sand and address this issue. And what I have tried to do as the insurance commissioner of the state of Mississippi is give us options. From a defensive point of view and an offensive point of view, if you are a football player, to address it," Chaney said.

If the exchange is accepted by the federal government and functions properly, Teresa Hannah with the Mississippi Center for Health Policy says they could be a way for thousands of Mississippi to get coverage.

"Around 270-thousand would be likely to get insurance in the exchange. And maybe 229-thousand of those would be eligible for subsidies. And that is around 900-million dollars in 2014 in terms of federal money," Hannah said.

Insurance commissioner Mike Chaney says Mississippi’s exchange will be fully functional when the health care reform law takes full effect in 2014.




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