I really don’t understand what Mike Chaney is doing.
At first, Insurance Commissioner Chaney’s office led the way in developing health care exchanges to comply with the Affordable Care Act. States all over the country called asking for help from little ole Mississippi. For once, we appeared to be ahead of the curve.
That plan ran headlong into the hard head of Gov. Phil Bryant. Because of the disagreement between the two officials, this first effort was a “no go” and did not get the approval it needed. As a result, the federal government took over the operation of the exchanges.
Undeterred, Chaney proceeded with a different type of exchange. It’s called the Free Market Small Business Health Insurance Option. Maybe the phrase “Free Market” will get it past the governor’s desk, but I wonder if this is a reasonable alternative to what the federal government is offering.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has a clause requiring businesses to provide health insurance to employees. Of course, it only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. Over half of businesses in Mississippi have four or fewer employees, so who cares? Right?
Well, every business owner faces the reality of competing for employees. Health insurance is an expectation that most applicants bring to the negotiating table. How do you provide such coverage when you lack the cost advantage of a big company? An exchange seems a logical option.
But there’s a problem. Participants in this exchange won’t be eligible for the federal subsidies allowed on the other exchange. Won’t my employees be better off going through the federal exchange? If so, the exchange won’t stand a chance without the critical mass necessary to bring down overall costs.
Yet, Chaney persists. He has even applied for additional grant money to continue with this effort. Mike, give it up. You already spent $11 million and had to walk away from the effort. Don’t throw good money after bad!
» Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is email@example.com, and her website is www.newper.com.