A recent appellate court ruling potentially threatens access to health care for over 57,000 Mississippians and the financial stability of rural hospitals across the state. A federal court ruled that insurance subsidies in states with federally-facilitated health insurance marketplaces are illegal. Health insurance marketplaces provide an opportunity for individuals and families to purchase health insurance with financial assistance provided by the federal government to help pay insurance premiums. Access to health insurance provides both Mississippi families and rural hospitals with financial security in helping to promote healthy communities and job creation throughout the state.
In Mississippi, 16% of the population is uninsured. Many Mississippi families and small business owners suffer hardships such as not seeking necessary medical care, worse health and worse health outcomes than those with health insurance. Being uninsured places at risk the financial security of uninsured families throughout the state. The state’s federally-facilitated health insurance marketplace increases the number of Mississippians that are able access private health insurance plans. The marketplace gives Mississippians a choice in determining the health insurance needs of their family. Over 60,000 Mississippians signed up for health insurance through the marketplace. Of those who chose a health plan in the marketplace, 94% benefited from a federal subsidy to help pay for their coverage. On average, Mississippians receive $415 to assist them in paying their insurance premium. Without these subsidies, these families, small business owners and working Mississippians would be unable to afford health insurance.
In addition to providing families with financial security, increased access to health insurance ensures that rural hospitals across the state are financially secure. Many of these rural hospitals help to anchor their communities as a source of health care and employment opportunities. The appellate court ruling threatens to reduce the number of Mississippians that can pay for health care services. Without the benefit of consumers that can pay for health care services, hospitals would be forced to make decisions that would lead to a reduction of health care services and job losses. Hospitals in Mississippi are responsible for contributing almost 30,000 jobs to the state’s workforce.
While the appellate court ruling will not end the premium subsidies that many Mississippians currently receive, the continued legal challenge of federally-facilitated marketplace subsidies does provide an opportunity to examine potential state-based public policy solutions to ensure that all Mississippians have access to health care.
-Dr. Corey Wiggins, Director