The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports nearly 100,000 Mississippians are enrolled for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. That number could rise by this Sunday, January 31, at midnight. That's the deadline to sign-up for coverage that takes effect March 1. Mississippians who don't have insurance can go to HealthCare.Gov, to see if they qualify for a tax credit. People who can afford coverage but don't buy it, or neglect to file an exemption, pay a fine. Roy Mitchell is with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
"Rather than choosing to get by without insurance and risk having to pay that fine, we believe that for most families, the best option is to learn about the tax credit that are available to them and enroll in a plan that meets their needs," said Mitchell.
Mitchell says 95 percent of Mississippians receive a tax credit. Those who have insurance through their employer aren't eligible for it. Mitchell says the penalty for not enrolling in the program can be up to $695 for the year. Jameson Taylor with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy doesn't support the Affordable Care Act. He says the subsidies and fines are ways to force people to participate.
"So just the fact that we have to do these two things to bribe people or to coerce people into using this product means you know what, maybe it's not such a great idea. Maybe there's something better out there," said Taylor.
Taylor says they're focused on less expensive options that utilize technology like Telemedicine. People who don't have insurance can see their options at HealthCare.Gov.