One of the main centers working to enroll uninsured Mississippians in the health insurance exchange says they have not been able to fully enroll anyone. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports problems with the web site could be limiting the number of people enrolled to surprisingly low numbers.
After working with nearly 4-thousand uninsured Mississippians, the navigators at the University of Mississippi Medical Center have not been able to fully enroll a single resident.
Chad Feldman, who runs the program, says the well documented problems with the website are prevented people from signing up.
"I think people come prepared for whatever is going to happen. I think if a person sits down with us and we get them all the way through the enrolment process they will be happy. People that we have talked to when we get to a stopping point or a glitch, they have been understanding," Feldman said.
One of the two insurance companies selling police on the exchange, Magnolia Health Plans, has enrolled just 34 people according to CEO Jason Dees.
"We trust that the government is going to work to get that system up and running. And certainly hope that more than 34 folks are going to sign up for coverage. Obviously, insurance works by spreading the risk around a large pool. And so we hope more people will sign up as we get some of these glitches worked out of the system," Dees said.
The other company selling insurance on the exchange is declining to release numbers until mid-November.
While the Obama administration, which runs Mississippi's web site, is promising a quick fix the weeks of problems have provided lots of fodder for conservative critics of the health care reform law.
Jameson Taylor with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy says the persistent problems are just visible symptom of a very troubled health care law.
"And that raises concerns about the future of the law moving forward. Because if we can't even get this right what are we going to do once we have millions of enrollees on the exchanges. If you think about how responsive your insurance company is right now, think about when your insurance company can hide behind the government sponsored exchange. Where is the accountability? Where is the transparency," Taylor said.
One major concern about the non-functioning site is that only sick people will stick around to purchase insurance and health people will not...which could lead to rapid, unsustainable increases in premiums.