Launch near for health care exchange

A one-stop shop for health insurance customers in Mississippi could be up and running early next year, as other states refuse to carry out programs tied to the federal health care overhaul.

“The idea of an exchange has been around for a long time,” state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said. “This is about health care for our citizens.”

Mississippi this month received $20 million from the federal government to move forward on starting its health care exchange program.

ov. Haley Barbour, who supported the effort to secure the grant and has pushed for a state health exchange since 2007, said Mississippi’s system “will be very different from the health exchange envisioned by ‘Obamacare’ or in Massachusetts.”

“Mississippi will create a voluntary, market-driven exchange for small businesses and individuals that allows consumers the flexibility to choose the private insurance plan that best fits their needs,” he said.

As of last year, 18 percent of Mississippians were uninsured, and the state ranked first in adult obesity and heart disease deaths.

Clarion Ledger
8/21/11