Mississippi: What patients need to know about changes to their health insurance

Patients in Mississippi will pay more for health insurance in 2017

Patients in Mississippi can expect to pay for more health insurance next year.

Earlier this year, Mississippi State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney warned that thousands of patients with insurance purchased through the federal healthcare exchange could see health insurance premiums rise by an average of 43 percent.

This year, a hypothetical 40-year-old patient in DeSoto County could expect to pay about $82 per month for the subsidized Humana Silver 3800 PPO plan. Next year, according to WTVA News, that will go up to $187.

Even with insurance coverage, Mississippi patients are frequently denied treatments

Skyrocketing insurance premiums, policy cancellations and the lack of access to critical medications are contributing to a national insurance crisis.

In a recent piece published at The Clarion-Ledger, our co-founder and policy director Jonathan Wilcox identifies what this national health insurance crisis means for patients in Mississippi.

“A doctor can prescribe a treatment he or she deems necessary or even vital, a patient can agree and a pharmacy benefit manager can overrule them both. Insurers are operating under the belief that it is acceptable to allow a patient to fail first or become sicker on a lower-cost medication before agreeing to provide drugs their doctors had originally prescribed.”

“The rejection of medically necessary drugs combined with higher health-care costs is a truly deadly mix for patients. Denying vital medications could result in serious consequences; who is responsible when this occurs? Doctors are required to take an oath to do no harm; should insurers be asked to do the same?”

“Fundamentally, this isn’t just the patient’s fight, or only their doctor’s cause. The advocacy community must lend its voice of concern to this obvious policy problem, insist on comprehensive reform and bring an end to what is obviously health care’s secret scandal. And lawmakers must listen.”

What patients in Mississippi should know as they shop for health insurance

What are some helpful tips for patients shopping for health insurance in Mississippi?

  1. Do Your Homework — Before Signing Up: “Do your homework for open enrollment in Mississippi,” Lisa Monti of the Mississippi Business Journal reminds patients.
  2. Your Current Plan Won’t Be The Same Plan Next Year: Even if your current plan is still available, it’s still important to do your homework on your current plan. Your current plan could have major changes to its formularies and other benefits. For example, CVS Health — the pharmacy benefit manager for many insurance companies — won’t cover treatments for leukemia and prostate cancer in 2017. Starting next year, CVS Health will ban three dozen new treatments, bringing the total number of excluded drugs to 131.
  3. Identify Co-Pays and Real Costs of Treatment: Health insurance plans with similar monthly premiums could have very different benefits and co-pays. Patients should make sure to identify what the true cost of health care will be when they actually go to access care.

What Mississippi patients say about their health care

According to a recently released national survey from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Mississippians say that the top health-care priorities for politicians and government officials should be managing premium increases, lowering co-pays and deductibles and holding insurance companies accountable.

Other findings from patients in Mississippi:

  • 43 percent of Mississippi residents have seen their health-care costs increase.
  • 19 percent of Mississippians say the treatment their doctor recommended wasn’t covered by insurance
  • 22 percent say the treatment of someone they know had the same problem.
  • 86 percent of Mississippians declared as very or somewhat important the need for transparency regarding how and why health plans are deciding to deny coverage of doctor-prescribed treatments.

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