|Gov. Scrooge McBryant's "No Health Insurance for You" Christmas Card|
I am one of those who had the option to purchase a health insurance plan through the marketplace, since I am not provided health insurance coverage through my employer. My choices were to go without coverage and pay a tax penalty or purchase a plan. I opted for buying a plan through the marketplace. I'm 29 years old and in good health, but none of us will be young and invincible forever.
Much has been said about the rough launch of the healthcare.gov website. Sure, it wasn't perfect; no one claimed it was. For those still cautious about the site, allow me to set your minds at ease. From the time it took me to begin speaking with a representative to her completing the process took less than 30 minutes. The nice lady I spoke with compiled my information ranging from my address (which I will explain later), expected income, and whether I am a tobacco user (which I am not.) I will now be able to purchase a quality health insurance plan for less than the cost of filling up my car's gas tank. As soon as my application was finalized, I looked around and was relieved to see that the Plagues of Egypt had not broken out around me.
Living in Rankin County, I have two companies from which to choose. Most Mississippians do not have that luxury. For months, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney (R) and his staff worked tirelessly to build a state-managed insurance marketplace that would open up our marketplace to multiple insurance companies statewide rather than have the complicated coverage map that now exists. In addition, if a Mississippian had a question about the plans like I did, a phone call would have been answered by a fellow Mississippian.
While I was completing the application over the phone, I couldn't help but think of the thousands of Americans who are as relieved as I am that they will soon be able to have health insurance coverage. Sadly, I also thought about the thousands of my fellow Mississippians that are missing out on coverage because of the short-sighted thinking of our governor.
As we know, Governor Bryant decided that this free market thinking would be a bad idea. Here we are a few days before Christmas, and Bryant is still wishing a bah humbug on those who need peace of mind that they will not go broke just because they get sick. Bryant has to live with his decision that keeps hundreds of thousands of Mississippians from obtaining not only private health insurance but also Medicaid coverage. A recent study found that expanding Medicaid eligibility would improve the state's finances while covering around 220,000 more Mississippians. It's quite a poor legacy for Bryant to leave behind.
Do not let the fear mongering from Bryant frighten you. Keep in mind that he already has government-sponsored health insurance provided to him thanks to his career-long service to the state. He's in good shape.
This Christmas, I wish individuals, families, and small business owners would call the marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 or visit www.healthcare.gov to find out what options they have.