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Only quarter of eligible Mississippians join health insurance exchange so far

With a month of open enrollment left, 81,251 Mississippians have either registered or been automatically renewed for the state’s Federally Facilitated Marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act.

Still, the totals represent just 26 percent of those eligible to enroll, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Last year, Mississippi ranked 33rd in the number of eligible people who enrolled in the health insurance exchange,  HealthInsurance.org reported.

However, Mississippians ages 18 to 34 made up 31 percent of the state’s enrollees. Framers of the Affordable Care Act deemed participation by this age demographic a key to the success of the healthcare marketplaces and had projected adults 18 to 34 would make up about 27 percent of total enrollees nationwide.

Among Mississippi residents enrolling in Qualified Health Plans, 94 percent qualified for financial assistance, compared to 85 percent nationally. A report released in June by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed the average monthly premium, after tax credits, for Mississippi consumers was just $23. That’s the lowest average in the nation.

Here is a HealthInsurance.org breakdown of plan selections by Mississippians:

Eight percent of residents selected a bronze plan compared to 20 percent nationally; 79 percent selected a silver plan compared to 65 percent nationally; 5 percent selected a gold plan compared to 9 percent nationally, 7 percent selected a platinum plan compared to 5 percent nationally and 1 percent selected a catastrophic plan compared to 2 percent nationally.

Nationally, 7.2 million people selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled by mid January, Health & Human Services says. Open enrollment in Mississippi and elsewhere began Nov. 15.

“Last week, just before the deadline for Feb.1 coverage, approximately 76,005 people in Mississippi selected a plan that worked for their family,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a press release.

UnitedHealthcare joined the Mississippi marketplace for 2015. This brought the number of insurers on the individual exchange to three in the state. Humana and Magnolia Health Plan were part of the marketplace in 2014 and returned for 2015.

HHS says that in the first month of open enrollment, 95 percent of Mississippians who selected health insurance plans were determined eligible for financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums.  A total of 89 percent of Mississippi enrollees as of December 2014 could obtain coverage for $100 or less after any applicable tax credits in 2015, HHS says.

An HSS report issued in June showed the average monthly premium for Mississippi enrollees, after tax credits, was $23 – the lowest average in the nation,  HealthInsurance.org reported.

HealthInsurance.org also reported that an analysis by The Common Wealth Fund showed average premiums in Mississippi are 19 percent lower in 2015 than in 2014. The weighted analysis looks at premium amounts, differences in premiums between urban/suburban/rural areas within states, and insurer participation, HealthInsurance.org said.



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