Mississippi health insurance premiums to remain low for 2017

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states Mississippi healthcare premiums will remain low in 2017.

The report estimates that 81 percent of the state’s healthcare.gov participants will be able to purchase plans for less than $75 per month in 2017, an increase from 79 percent in 2016, even with a hypothetical 25 percent premium increase.

In addition, the report states that 82 percent of policyholders in the state could have a monthly premium of $75 or less in 2017 if there was a hypothetical 50 percent premium increase.

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Chief Operating Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Mandy Cohen said in a press call on Wednesday the way the Affordable Care Act works, more protection is offered with higher rate increase.

Even if rates were to increase in the state by 50 percent, tax credits would limit premium changes for those insured, Acting Assistant Secretary for Planning and EvaluationKatie Martin said.

Nationwide, 73 percent of participants will be able to purchase policies for less than $75 per month, Martin said.

Martin also said that in 2016, despite double digit increases in premium rates, premiums only increased by about $4 on average.

“Consumers in each state will continue to have affordable options,” Martin said.

However, in early August, Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney announced 13,000 Humana healthcare policyholders would see significant premium increases in 2017.

Ben Wakana, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, said the number of people that are able to receive healthcare coverage since the implementation of the ACA, despite preexisting conditions, has significantly increased.

Cohen encouraged consumers to look at the options on healthcare.gov this November and shop around, an option that she said was not possible before the ACA.

“What healthcare.gov gives folks is the opportunity to do what they couldn’t have before, and that is to see all their options side by side,” Cohen said.

Last year, the program saw 39 policy issuers exit the market and 13 million people enrolled in the program, Wakana said.

“The folks that are leaving are getting the headlines,” Cohen said.

She also said Signa is expanding in the market in various states.

Participants in the program are now required to provide insurance to those with preexisting conditions, Cohen said.

In more rural areas, Wakana said the uninsured rates are still going down, despite low provider competition.

The uninsured rate decreased by one-third in rural areas in 2015, Wakana said.

“The idea of limited competition has not hampered one of the fundamental goals of the ACA,” Wakana said.

Humana and Magnolia Health are the only two healthcare carriers offering plans in Mississippi through healthcare.gov, according to HealthInsurance.org.

UnitedHealthcare announced earlier this year they would be withdrawing from the individual marketplace in Mississippi for 2017, according to a release from MID.

Humana limits it’s participation in Mississippi to 24 counties, including Pearl River County, states the MID release.


About Julia Arenstam

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