OUR OPINION: Health insurance is a requirement for all

Response to the availability of health insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act, in understatement, has been less than overwhelming in Mississippi. As of late November, only 148 Mississippians had been registered.

A free information time on Saturday at the Link Centre drew only nine people to get the information offered by Catch Kids and Access Family Health Services.

The ACA’s website dysfunction has been its own worst enemy nationwide, but the White House announced Saturday the site now can handle up to 50,000 people at a time, which, if correct, should increase registrations.

The clock is running on the deadlines set for the required registration for health insurance coverage; the first month’s premium is due by Dec. 23 so that the insurance can be in force by Jan. 1, 2014. However, enrollment does not close until March 31; after that date, late enrollment penalties will apply unless rules are changed.

An online application, however, is just one of four ways to go through the registration process.

The official website, HealthCare.gov, offers explanations on how to register:

• Apply with a paper application; fill out a paper application and mail it in, and also find out “whether you’re eligible for lower costs on private insurance, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To get a paper application, download the application form from the website.

• Apply online:

Set up an account. Start by going to the Marketplace page. First you’ll provide some basic information.

Compare options. You’ll be able to see all the options you qualify for, including private insurance plans and free and low-cost coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Enroll, and after you choose a plan, “you can enroll online and decide how you pay your premiums to your insurance company. You must pay your premium by the date the insurer provides before your coverage can begin. Coverage can begin as soon as Jan. 1, 2014.

Learn what you can do to get ready to enroll.

• Apply by phone or with an in-person assister:

Call (800) 318-2596, 24 hours a day, seven days a week (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). A customer service representative will assist, or call Catch Kids at (662) 377-2194 or Access Family Health at (662) 844-4252.

All people must have health insurance unless the law is repealed, and that seems unlikely.

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  • Leah Smith Headings

    I went through the website to apply only to find out the cheapest policy I could get was over $600 per month, and that did not include doctor’s visits except for preventative care. I would have to spend another $4000 before that feature became available. Or, the policy that includes a co-pay for doctors visits was over $800 per month. I desperately need health insurance, but I can not afford those rates! I am so angry that our governor prevented the state-run insurance exchange that our Insurance Commissioner tried to set up. I beleive the rates would have been more competitive if there had been more than one insurance company that we can get coverage from!

  • Rumba Tango

    It is possible to not be legally required to carry health insurance. If you qualify for Medicaid, or for “help in paying for your insurance”, based on the federal calculations, but cannot receive these services because Mississippi chose not to expand Medicaid, it relieves you of being legally required to carry health insurance. You can fill out the application online and if the previous statement applies to you, they will tell you in the results that you are not legally required. One should save these results to a file on your computer, or print them out for your records.