Mississippi Health Advocacy Program continues to support the expansion of Medicaid in the state. With over 200,000 working Mississippians that stand to gain access to affordable health care, MHAP works to make this a reality for the state. Through providing relevant policy papers, economic studies, polling and story banking we strive to make Mississippi Medicaid expansion an issue central to the success of Mississippians and our state economy
MHAP is recognized nationwide as the Mississippi catalyst and convener for bringing people and groups together to serve health consumers efficiently and effectively. MHAP does this by engaging and working with local community based organizations to provide them with timely, useful resources on enrollment and post-enrollment issues. MHAP hosts annual Affordable Care Act (ACA) pre and post open enrollment meetings involving enrollment navigators, assisters, community health centers, insurers, the US Department of Health and Human Services and national health consumer groups such as Enroll America. These meetings serve to set strategic goals for open enrollment and to also identify what challenges exist and explore best practices to overcome them. While MHAP is most widely recognized for its public health policy work, we have responded to the needs of Mississippians by providing consumer health insurance assistance. Our Health Help Mississippi program provides direct enrollment assistance to consumers that are experiencing issues with both private and public insurance. Visit http://www.healthhelpms.org for more information on Health Help's services.
MHAP worked for years to ensure the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Now our work has transitioned to ensuring consumers are informed about and exercise their new rights under the law. MHAP, through our consumer assistance program Health Help Mississippi, provides assistance with consumer grievances and appeals when necessary. MHAP also works with national partners to shape our state’s policy to provide more consumer protections as they navigate through this new health care landscape.
The Affordable Care Act has provided Mississippians with more access to not only health care, but also private health insurance. However, there are still consumer issues that present challenges for newly insured beneficiaries. One of the most prominent is balance billing. Balance billing, most commonly referred to as surprise medical bills, is the difference between what the provider charges and what the insurer will reimburse. The consumer is responsible for this amount, which can many times be in the thousands. Usually this occurs when a consumer inadvertently sees a provider out of their network in an emergency situation, which can include laboratory services or anesthesia services. In very rural areas, with limited provider networks, this issue is even more pronounced because consumers may have to go out of network to receive the services they need.
One of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care affordable, while providing a base level coverage. One of the ways this was done, was for insurers to create provider networks that were not as large as they usually are. Because of this, consumers are not always able to have their medical needs met, leading to higher costs for consumers and decreased access to care. Another concern with insurers is the quality of the information they provide about their provider networks. Many provider directories are updated annually, when provider information changes much more routinely than that. This causes problems, when consumers are trying to be compliant and see providers that are in their networks. Consumers can get charged out of network prices because of incorrect information.