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Miss. Organizations Launch Enrollment Coalition for Health Insurance Exchange

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Sep 2013 07:04am | comments

A new coalition of Mississippi non-profit organizations and public health advocates is launching a state wide outreach effort to encourage residents to enroll in the new Health insurance exchange.  Uninsured Mississippians can begin signing up on October first.

 An estimated 275,000 uninsured Mississippians will be eligible to sign up for subsidized private health insurance starting in October when the insurance exchange officially opens.

 However, Jarvis Dortch with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program says many don't know what the exchange means to them.

 "But the thing is once they are able to start getting their benefits, once they are able to get their tax credits and sign up for private insurance. People will understand that this isn't some scary thing that will take away their health care. It is going to improve their lives and financial condition," Dortch said.

 A new coalition of nearly 20 groups is being formed called Cover Mississippi.

 They intend to do outreach in churches, colleges, and clinic statewide to educate uninsured Mississippians about the exchange and help them sign up for private health insurance.

 One Mississippian that could stand to benefit is Chris Paige, a self-employed Jackson barber who struggles to pay for minimum insurance.

 "I got the minimum coverage. I am not covered on a lot of stuff but I got enough so that if something happened it would help me out. But in order to get what I really need, I can't afford it," Paige said.

 Only one of his seven employees is insured and Paige says on a scale of one to ten, the concerns about a lack of insurance are a ten.

 The exchange is part of the federal health care reform law.

 The plans will be subsidized by the federal government in an effort to lower monthly premiums to make them more affordable.

 Cover Mississippi faces an uphill battle in the state because the law has seen stiff resistance from conservative state lawmakers and advocacy groups.

 Ed Haislmaier with the conservative Heritage Foundation has long warned that the exchange will not allow for the competition that is necessary to drive down rates.

 "We not only want competition, we want the competition among the insurers. We want the competition in what is the best benefit design and what will serve market niches. Sometimes what will work for one person won't work for another," Haislmaier said.

 Mississippi's exchange will be administered by the federal government.

 While enrollment begins in October, the plans won't kick in until the start of the year.






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