Federal Health Insurance Exchanges May Skip Most of Mississippi

June 26, 2013

People in 36 of Mississippi's 82 counties may not be able to buy health insurance through the new federal online marketplace when it starts enrolling customers in October, says the Associated Press.

  • Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says two insurers have announced offerings so far, planning to serve 46 counties.
  • Unless more companies sign up or the existing companies expand their plans, consumers in the remaining counties won't be able to buy health insurance through the online exchange.
  • "I don't know what to tell you about the other 36 counties," says Chaney. "You're just out of luck."

That means people in these counties won't be able to use federal tax credits offered to consumers with incomes of between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. That's up to about $46,000 for an individual and about $94,000 for a family of four, with those at the top end getting little or no subsidy.

People who don't buy insurance are required to pay a $95-a-year penalty starting in 2014. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department couldn't immediately say whether people would be penalized in counties without offerings.

Under the federal health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010, every state is required to have an online marketplace so people can get coverage starting in January 2014, much of it federally subsidized. A 2012 study by the Mississippi Center for Health Policy had projected that as many as 275,000 Mississippians could gain insurance through exchanges, with 230,000 of those benefitting from federal tax credits that could total $900 million a year.

Source: "Federal Health Insurance Marketplace May Skip Much of Miss.," Clarion Ledger, June 20, 2013.

 

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