Shelby Mayor Dan Harris said it is important for individuals to enroll in affordable coverage.
"I have been working hard to ensure that my constituents sign up for healthcare insurance. I try to send out announcements to churches as much as possible and post flyers. I really hope that those that qualify for affordable health insurance take advantage of it. If they don't, they will be facing penalties during the next tax season," he said.
Open Enrollment for 2014 coverage ends March 31.
If an individual has not enrolled in coverage by then, they can’t enroll in 2014 Marketplace coverage.
The tax penalties go into effect in 2014, which means, if an individual is uninsured for more than three months in 2014, then they may incur the tax penalty and that penalty would be applied when they file their 2014 income tax return.
If an individual does not qualify for an exemption to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to purchase qualifying health coverage, then they will be subject to a tax penalty.
The exception is if an individual has a qualifying life event they will be provided with a special enrollment period.
The next open enrollment period is starts on Nov. 15 for health insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1.
"With the state not picking up Medicaid, that has left a lot of folks out in the cold and without health insurance," said Harris.
According to the Affordable Care Act, if Medicaid is not an option and an individual cannot afford health insurance, then they are exempt from the tax penalty.
"Please do not automatically think that you don’t qualify. It's worth a try because everyone needs healthcare," he added.
If an individual does not have health coverage, the Affordable Care Act will provide additional funding to community health centers.
With one in five Mississippians currently uninsured, it’s critical that residents select a plan before the March 31 open enrollment deadline for the Mississippi individual market exchange to avoid a penalty.
Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said he is not very familiar with the Affordable Care Act but he does know the significance of having health insurance.
"If people do not have insurance, they need to look into this for themselves and their family. It is important for individuals to have health insurance because this could financially ruin somebody with health issues. For the people that don’t have it, it would be an catastrophic thing," said Nowell.
"I feel like enrollment is very important but I do feel that those who plan to enroll should do their homework," he added.
According to the Affordable Care Act private companies offer insurance plans in the Marketplace.
They all cover the same essential health benefits.
No plan can turn an individual away or charge them more because they have an illness or medical condition.
The insurance must cover treatments for these conditions.
Plans can't charge women more than men for the same plan.
Many preventive services are covered at no cost.
Before an individual fills out a Marketplace application, they can preview plans and prices available in their area.
Premium quotes shown reflect any lower costs they are eligible for based on their income and household size.
Although affordable healthcare is being offered, there are some individuals who need assistance with the enrollment process.
"There are a lot of areas where individuals can receive assistance with the enrollment process. My constituents can go down to the Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou. There are people down there everyday that are waiting to assist those who are having problems with the enrollment process," said Harris.
Individuals can apply for Marketplace coverage several ways: online, by phone, or in person with the help of a navigator or other qualified helpers and telephone help which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Pace Mayor Levon Jackson said he finds marketplace coverage to be affordable and he urges his citizens to enroll.
"With my previous job, I would have been out of $600 per month and with my most recent job, I would have had to spend $900 per month but with the marketplace insurance, I only have to pay $400 a month. It saved me money," said Jackson.
"The scripture says you have not because you ask not. Humana representatives have been in Pace on two occasions and they did get a large number of people to sign up. Some of them found out that they only had to pay about $25 a month," he added.
Humana is a leading provider of health care plans in Mississippi, is a sponsor and supporter of Cover Mississippi, the statewide public-private coalition focused at educating Mississippi residents about the online health insurance marketplace.
Humana is offering coverage for uninsured individuals and families in 40 counties through the Mississippi health insurance exchange.
"It is an absolute must that individuals enroll because a lot of my constituents really need it. Healthcare is something that we all need. If you have not enrolled, please go on and enroll," continued Jackson.
"I just hope that the word has gotten around and everyone gets out and sign up," said Harris.
For more information about health care coverage options under the Affordable Care Act, please visitwww.Humana.com/healthcareforyou or call toll-free 877-229-6285.
Bolivar County resident may also contact Affordable Healthcare Representative Veronica Griffin at 662-523-2868.