By Lonnie Ross
Obamacare got a boost in Mississippi when Cover Mississippi held an enrollment kickoff event in Jackson last Friday.
Health agencies, insurance companies, non-profit organizations and schools hosted tables on the upper level of the Metrocenter Mall, answering questions, providing information and signing up mall visitors to help them enroll under the new health insurance law, the Affordable Care Act.
People, who visited the mall between 10am and 4pm on November 15, were able to stop at the Cover Mississippi set of tables and pick up literature, ask questions, check their level of eligibility for insurance and subsidies in Mississippi through the two insurance market exchanges and sign up for further assistance.
Cover Mississippi hosted a panel discussion during the lunch hour. The Panelist talked about what they and their organizations are doing about health care. The panelists were: Kimberly Hughes, American Cancer Society, Tinecia Harris, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Kim Robinson, Children’s Defense Fund, Walter Zinn Jr., Moderator, State Senator David Blount, Senate District 29 (Hinds), and State Representative Bryant Clark, State District 47 (Attala, Holmes, and Yazoo).
The event was managed by the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program led by Jarvis Dortch, Program Manager and Kristian Weatherspoon, Coalition Coordinator.
Jennifer Jackson, a nurse with Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, checked the blood pressure and blood sugar reading for diabetes for all willing visitors to her table.
Other popular stops for mall visitors included tables for Jackson Medical Mall, Mississippi State Conference NAACP, Humana, Magnolia Health, Jackson State University, American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood Southeast, and Mississippi Primary Health Care Association.
Magnolia Health, one of the two health insurance companies serving as a market exchange in Mississippi, featured their obamacare product called “ambetter”. Independent certified agent, Cheryl Smith explained the eligibility rules for anyone seeking a discount off of their health insurance premium through subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. She said that she could not completely enroll a candidate on site, but she was gathering information and would follow up with anyone who signed up with her.
The other market exchange company, health insurance provider, Humana had a “double presence” at the event. Humana had a table in the mall manned by two Humana employees. The company also located one of its two new buses with three independent certified agents (Phyllis Rhodes, Valerie German, and Virgina Bailey) at the mall entrance. The buses are touring select locations throughout the state of Mississippi where Humana agents help people understand how the changes in healthcare affects them, and to find a health insurance plan that works for them and fits their budget.
Vieanna Nichols who visited the bus said that she was a strong advocate for the Affordable Care Act. The X-ray Tech who has worked mostly part-time over the years has been one of those uninsured working people that Obamacare is targeting.
“I am so excited to get affordable health coverage”, she said. “I came on the bus to signup. I have no problem with not being able to sign up all the way. I’m just glad to get started today.”
Humana’s second bus was located in Ridgeland in the Walmart parking lot, on the same day. Independent certified agents, Ruby Parks, Tim Bell and Ricardo Willis manned that bus.