Adams County not covered by current insurance exchanges

Published 12:11am Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NATCHEZ — With less than four months before the new insurance exchanges are set to open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act’s mandated coverage, Adams County isn’t currently covered by the online marketplace.

So far, two insurance companies have signed up to cover Mississippi as part of the exchange. One of those companies, Humana, will only cover four counties; the second, Magnolia Health Plan, will cover 46 counties, four of which were the counties selected by Humana. Enrollment in the exchanges is set to start in October.

Adams County is among the 36 counties with no coverage from the exchanges, and Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney told the Associated Press last week he doesn’t know what the solution to that shortfall is and that those in the counties not covered are “out of luck.”

While the lack of an online marketplace does not bar Adams County residents from enrolling in work-based insurance, on the open market or in Medicaid or Medicare programs, it does mean that some insurance subsidies are off the table for them.

“If a person’s income is not up to a certain level, there are certain subsidies that the federal government is passing through as tax credits, but my understanding is that has to go through the exchange for a person to qualify for that,” said Jack Stephens, an independent insurance agent at Stephens and Hobdy Insurance in Natchez.

“I don’t know what the rates are going to look like, and I don’t know what the future holds, especially since no one has signed up for the marketplace.”

Adams County Supervisor Calvin Butler said he’s concerned about the issue because apparently local government cannot do anything to get the county into an exchange.

“This is more or less on a state level — and right now (state officials said) they are trying to get Blue Cross to be a part of the exchange — but none of these companies in the exchange want to accept Adams County into those programs now.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, those who don’t have medical insurance starting in 2014 will be required to pay a $95-a-year penalty.

Stephens said he expects in the next 30 to 60 days that local companies will have some kind of market in place for those who need to purchase insurance from traditional sellers.