TABLE OF CONTENTS
You have health insurance options in Mississippi. If offered, you can opt in to your employer’s health care plan, purchase a plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace, enroll in Medicaid or Medicare, or purchase coverage directly from an insurer.
This guide details your Mississippi health insurance options.
Mississippi is one of 36 states using the Health Insurance Marketplace, and your first steps in finding coverage are to register on the HealthCare.gov website and create an account. To create an account, you will need to provide your name and contact telephone number, choose a password and set up several security questions. You’ll need the full names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of everyone your health insurance plan will cover. Each person must be qualified as your spouse, partner, or dependent. The application process requires you to supply information, including:
Once you’ve entered the required information, HealthCare.gov checks your eligibility for Medicaid and whether you qualify for APTC credits. The system will give you a list of available plans with information such as the:
There’s also a tool for comparing these plans side-by-side. Once you choose a plan, you can proceed through the enrollment process. The following companies sell family and group insurance in Mississippi:
The health insurance enrollment process is similar for individuals and families. For families, it’s helpful to evaluate whether individual plans for each family member are a better choice than a single policy. Points to consider include:
Individual insurance may turn out to be more affordable if you and your spouse or other family members have widely different medical needs. With good health, you could choose a policy with lower monthly premiums at the expense of higher annual deductibles. If you have a chronic condition or a disability, then a policy with more comprehensive benefits, higher monthly premiums, but lower annual deductibles may be a better choice.
There are three types of insurance plans that you can select.
When shopping for family insurance plans, you’ll need to consider the health needs of each family member. Do you or your spouse suffer from a chronic illness that requires a higher level of medical expense? Does one of your children have special health needs? It’s important to balance individual needs to ensure each person has adequate coverage while minimizing premiums, deductibles, and copays. Consider separate policies based on coverage needs.
You should evaluate the pros and cons of the different plan types available in Mississippi. An HMO plan may offer lower deductibles, but you need to use the insurer’s health provider network and get referrals for specialists. If someone in your family needs specialist care not available within the network, then a PPO plan may be a better option. With a PPO network, access to providers is nationwide, much more flexible, and doesn’t require referrals.
Health Insurance Marketplace plans are divided into four tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Individual plans are assigned to specific tiers based on premiums, copays, and annual deductibles. If you’re looking for cheap health insurance, Bronze plans cost less but have fewer benefits than Gold plans. Each plan offers the same basic benefits, but the value and coverage level differ according to the tier:
|Average Premiums in Mississippi||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022|
|Most affordable Bronze plan||$464||$455||$422||$407||$408|
|Most affordable Silver plan||$479||$456||$449||$458||$448|
|Most affordable Gold plan||$648||$621||$575||$543||$573|
All plans offer certain preventive care services, and most provide network discounts even before you meet your deductible. Average health insurance premiums in Mississippi have dropped steadily since 2018.
Mississippi Medicaid provides medical insurance based on your medical needs and income. Families with children may qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Medicaid in Mississippi helps pay for medical services if you have low income and belong to at least one of these categories:
Eligibility for the Medicaid program depends on annual household income and your family size. In 2021, Mississippi’s annual income limits before taxes are $17,131 for a single person and $23,169 for a couple. You can only qualify for Medicaid in Mississippi if you’re a state resident and a United States citizen or legal permanent resident. You can check your eligibility and apply for Medicaid through the Mississippi Division of Medicaid or HealthCare.gov. You can also apply in person at one of the 30 regional offices located throughout the state. Medicaid provides coverage for essential services, including:
The CHIP program covers children 19 and younger who are ineligible for Medicaid and have no health insurance. Eligibility is based on family income, which may not exceed 209% of the federal poverty level.
Disabled children living at home who would otherwise need hospitalization or placement in a long-term care facility are covered, provided care costs are lower than the equivalent cost of full-time institutional care. Additionally, the child’s annual income must be below $2,000, and they can’t be medically stable. Suppose you’re a disabled working person who meets the Social Security definition of disability and works more than 40 hours per month. In that case, you can be covered by Medicaid provided your household meets certain income requirements. Earned income must not exceed 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and unearned income can’t exceed 135%.
There are several Medicare programs available for Mississippi seniors and adults with disabilities.
If you enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and B), you can opt to add a Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) or supplemental Medigap insurance to help pay out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Original Medicare.
To qualify for Medicare, you must be at least 65 years old or have a qualifying disability. In most cases, a qualifying disability is a condition that makes you eligible for at least 24 months of payments from the Social Security Disability Insurance program or Railroad Retirement Board. You may be able to qualify sooner if you have end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
If you start receiving your Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits at least four months before you turn 65, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare. Otherwise, you must fill out an application online or contact your local Social Security office. You can enroll in Medicare during the following periods:
In Mississippi, you can purchase short-term or temporary health insurance coverage. These policies have a defined term, which is usually three to 12 months in length.
You might need short-term health insurance if you’re in between insurance policies due to a job change, missed open enrollment, or are waiting for Medicare coverage to start.
Short-term health insurance policies typically cost less than ACA-compliant health plans with minimum essential coverage, so look at the policy to ensure it has the coverage you need. Short-term policies typically exclude preexisting conditions and pregnancy.
Mississippi doesn’t require residents to have health insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA requires insurance, but there’s no longer a tax penalty if you don’t carry insurance.
No, you can purchase health coverage directly from insurance companies. If you’re eligible for and want to receive Advanced Premium Tax Credits, you must buy your insurance and enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Eligibility for tax credits is dependent on annual household income.
The most popular form of cost-sharing plans are faith-based plans. In a faith-based plan, members share health care costs with other members. You don’t need to be a member of a particular denomination (or even religious), to participate in a plan. While these plans can be relatively low-cost, most faith-based plans don’t conform to Affordable Care Act standards and don’t cover pre-existing conditions, mental health care, or pregnancy.
There’s no requirement to purchase health insurance if you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible savings account (FSA). The primary purpose of an HSA or FSA is to save pretax money to cover the deductibles associated with high-deductible health insurance policies. These accounts aren’t intended as a substitute for health insurance.
Short-term disability coverage is intended to help you meet household expenses if you’re temporarily disabled. It doesn’t replace health insurance. Mississippi employers aren’t required to provide short-term disability insurance, but you can take out a policy if you want to have this coverage.
Long-term disability insurance provides funds to sustain you and your family should you be unable to work due to a specified disability. These policies cover household expenses, food, and housing. Long-term disability insurance payments typically continue until you’re age 65. These policies don’t replace health insurance, and monthly payments are unlikely to be sufficient to cover all medical costs.
The Mississippi CHIP provides health insurance for children from birth through age 19. Children who aren’t eligible for Medicaid can get CHIP insurance, provided your family’s monthly household income doesn’t exceed certain limits.