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Public Asked for Input on Creation of Health Insurance Exchange

By Daniel Cherry | Published 23 Jun 2011 04:25pm | comments

The Mississippi Insurance Department is traveling across the state gathering public opinion on creating a health insurance exchange. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the exchange will affect some residents for better or worse.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says all states must establish a health insurance exchange by 2014 or be forced to adopt a federally run program. Mike Chaney, Mississippi's Insurance Commissioner, says the state has a variety of unique health concerns that Mississippians are best suited to handle.

"We talk about what's required to have an affordable insurance package in the state, and that feedback is coming from the citizens of the state. It's not designed by a bunch of folks in a room with big egos. It's designed by people who truly care about what's needed in the state in Mississippi."

The exchange will create a marketplace where individuals and businesses can shop for health insurance. Kreig Bell is an insurance broker. He says about 90 percent of his clients are businesses. He's worried about where he'll fit in if businesses have the option of letting individuals shop for insurance themselves.

"They're pretty much going to say, 'Kreig, I'm sorry, but this is affecting our bottom line such that we're going to have to send them on to the individual exchange, and there goes my business. Hopefully I'm not bagging groceries anytime soon.'"

But small business owner Sandra Mobley says she doesn't see businesses dropping insurance plans because they have the option to let individuals handle shopping themselves. She says good benefits attract the best employees.

"Now people with families, they want to know. That would be the only thing. To keep employees and high morale. I still believe that group (insurance) will be in existence because those employers are still willing to pay to keep good employees."

The Health Care Bill says all states have to comply with the exchange, but it doesn't say how. Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says public opinion is the best way to figure out how to benefit the most people.

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