Health Insurance Exchange excludes 36 Mississippi countie - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Federal Heath Insurance Exchange will exclude 36 Mississippi counties from tax breaks

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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

In October, health exchanges will become available in Mississippi as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known informally as Obamacare, but residents in 36 out of the state's 82 counties may not be able to take part.

Currently, no insurance providers are offering to sell plans in the state's poorest counties. Those counties include Wayne, Jones, Covington, Jefferson Davis, Walthall, Pike, and Pearl River. This means people who would qualify for subsidized insurance coverage will be unable to take part in the program, officials said.

A family of four making $50,000 a year in Forrest County would pay hundreds of dollars less a month in insurance premiums than a family with the same income in Marion County which is not covered by the federal exchange.

State Democratic leader Bobby Moak said Tuesday that a state health insurance exchange would extend tax breaks to every Mississippi county, but the limited number of insurance providers through the federal exchange limits the coverage.

Moak asked, "Why a Republican-controlled legislature would want a federally controlled health exchange? It's kind of interesting to say that you don't want Obamacare in the state, yet you would be in favor of a federal exchange run by the Obama administration rather than a state exchange run by the Mississippi elected officials. But, under the federal plan we are limited to who is (Insurance Carriers) writing, one with maybe a second one coming in and that is part of the reason you have 36 counties with no coverage whatsoever. Under the federal plan, all of those people, some 60,000 people are left to pay higher insurance premiums every month."

Moak says without another special session being called to adopt a state health insurance exchange, the changes that will take effect in October of this year and cause 60,000 Mississippians to miss out on the tax breaks.

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