Short Takes On News & Events

Obamacare Outreach Is On Wheels In Mississippi

By Jeffrey Hess, Mississippi Public Broadcasting

December 4th, 2013, 9:24 AM


In Mississippi, as in the 35 other states where healthcare.gov is running the enrollment show, it hasn’t been easy to sign up for the health law’s new insurance options. That’s a political problem for Democrats and a personal problem for the uninsured — but it’s a business problem for the companies that are trying to sell insurance plans in the new marketplace.

One insurance company, Humana, is taking to the road to tackle the problem. Humana launched two specially equipped buses that have Internet access and insurance agents on board who can enroll Mississippians in Affordable Care Act plans.

Standing beside one bus, Humana’s Stacey Carter says the goal is to generate grassroots interest in the marketplace.

“We will be at Wal-Marts. At some CVS’s in the first quarter. We will be at gas stations. So it is really kind of what that community felt would be a good place to visit. And we are working on some churches as well,” Carter said, during an interview in late November.

Carter says people are enrolling as the website improves. Humana is selling insurance plans throughout the state of Mississippi. In 36 counties, it is the only company selling plans. Though the company is selling in 13 other states, it is running the buses only in Mississippi.

Lonnie Ross, uninsured with a wife and three children, is finally getting a chance to look at the prices and plans he can purchase on the exchange. Ross says after 15 years of being without insurance, he was surprised at his options. “Oh, I was very impressed. I am kind of excited. So I hope it works out,” Ross says. “I hope it is what they say. I am right in my range $150 to $200 (a month).”

At a Humana bus stop in Natchez, Marie Dillon found out that she can qualify for insurance that will cover the medicine for her chronic lung condition, which she has skipped for the last year. “I am excited about it. I feel like I can afford health insurance now. At one time I couldn’t. Just based on my medical condition, they wanted over $500 a month to get medical insurance. But with this it is going to cost me anywhere between $25 and $50 bucks a month,” Dillon said.

But the access to plan information is also bringing startling news to some of the state’s poorest residents. They are being left without any help to purchase insurance because they make too little to qualify for subsidies to buy private insurance, and do not qualify for Medicaid because the state chose not to expand eligibility for the program.

While enrollment runs through the end of March, people must sign up by Dec. 23 to get plans that kick in at the start of the year.

4 Responses to “Obamacare Outreach Is On Wheels In Mississippi”

  1. chuck says:

    In my opinion, a reader has but one takeaway after reading the many anti-Obamacare articles in the news. After complaining so loud about the broken health exchange web site that they attract right-wing news media coverage, those complaining the loudest keep coming back and trying again and again to sign up on the health exchange because they desperately need to find quality and affordable health insurance. It’s ironic that insurance seekers, mostly the uninsured, are so intent on making disparaging comments about something that Republicans are committed to denying them. Are people that stupid to think that Republicans have their best interests at heart? Republicans have no health reform plan because they like the status quo. Republicans have one single goal in mind. To destroy the Obama Presidency and everything it stands for. If Republicans destroy your chances to get quality and affordable health insurance in the process of destroying the Obama Presidency, they don’t care. For uninsured Americans, Obamacare is their only hope to get quality and affordable health insurance! Republicans offer no plan of their own and would rather leave the uninsured to continue without insurance coverage. Democrats are at least trying to get the uninsured the health coverage that they so desperately need. The only plan Republicans have? If you get sick, die quickly!

  2. Great work, a couple of incredibly valid points! I appreciate you penning this editorial and the rest of your site is perfect!

  3. marie says:

    Worth repeating from another thread…

    “At a snails pace, Gov. Tom Corbett is slowly inching toward trying to get the feds to approve his “privatized” version of Medicaid Expansion. Meanwhile, PA hospitals are in dire need of the relief that Medicaid Expansion will provide for uncompensated emergency room (ER) care. With Corbett acting so slow, PA hospitals can forget about any ER relief in 2014. It seems, the only hope PA hospitals have for ER relief is in 2015 when Corbett is no longer the governor.”

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