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Mississippi To Operate Its Own Insurance Exchange

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Nov 2012 06:48pm | comments
The exchange advisory board.

Mississippi is moving full speed ahead with establishing a private health insurance market place known as an exchange. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports an exchange is an online market place for companies to list their products, and for consumers to comparison shop and buy.

The Mississippi Insurance Department officially told the federal government that it will run its own health insurance exchange and plans to file the exchange blueprint tomorrow.

If the state had not set up an insurance exchange, which is part of the health care reform law, the federal government would have set on up in Mississippi instead.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says keeping the exchange on a state level gives Mississippi control over what type of health insurance plans will be sold in the state.

"The history of the federal government has always been if they become the default operator of the program, they will spend massive amounts of money to implement a program. It may be on a different time line from that which is envisioned now, but it will be massive. It will be expensive. And it probably won't work very well," Chaney said.

Mississippi is one of the states leading the way toward an exchange, a prospect that has angered many conservative groups.

Laura VanOverschelde. with the Central Mississippi Tea Party says she is not convinced that the federal government will take a hands off approach.

"But they are in direct conflict with the socialistic program put out by the Obama administration. And they can try to push free market principals all they want to and they are going to keep running into those road blocks. And those roadblocks are going to prove that the Obamacare can't stand on the way it is written right now.  It eventually will just collapse," VanOverschelde. said.

Members of the exchange board insist that state level exchange operation is critical to making the exchange work.

Boardmember and insurance salesman Joel Jasper says it is important for the rules of the exchange to be set by Mississippians who have a clear understanding of the state's market.

"Is the exchange free market? Absolutely, that is what we are talking about right here is how do you keep it free market. If you are not careful and you regulate it too much than who wants to participate?  If it cost too much for a company to get involved in it, why get involved?" Jasper said.

The exchange web site, onemississippi.com, is already functioning and one company is currently selling very limited health insurance.

When it is fully functional, Insurance commissioner Chaney estimates that ten or more companies could sell products on the exchange.

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The exchange advisory board.


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