Obamacare another burden to bear for Jonestown - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Obamacare another burden to bear for Jonestown

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JONESTOWN, Miss. (FOX13) -

While the State of Mississippi works on running a state insurance exchange for small businesses, individuals are left to find their own way to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

For many poverty stricken communities in the Mississippi Delta even finding information on how to begin to search for their own health insurance has proven hard to do.
MORE: Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

It was hard to tell if the Recession ever made a difference one way or the other to the economy of Jonestown, Miss. There remain few opportunities to find work in town and the economies of neighboring communities in Tunica and Clarksdale are only accessible if you've got a car.

So having to shop for affordable healthcare out of their own pockets is just one more burden to bear.

For decades it's as if time and progress have stood still in the town of Jonestown, population 1,700, some 60 miles south of Memphis, Tenn.

It's a place where news of the onset of the affordable care health insurance program is as distant as a cool breeze in summer.

"The people just don't understand or know about Obamacare," said Tony, a Jonestown resident.

"You almost have to be a doctor yourself to fill these papers out," added John Earl Stokes, "and that's just too complicated for a lot of people."

With the State of Mississippi refusing to set up insurance exchanges statewide, it's left to the residents of Jonestown, and other small communities like it, to find their own individual paths to compliance with what will be a federal mandate.

A task made even tougher in town where the median income is $15,000 a year, in a cash-strapped community that now has no policemen due to budget cutbacks.

"We get no feedback from the town where you can go and start up Obamacare," Tony said. "We don't hear anything where we can go sign  up. There's no places in Jonestown. The next closest town is Clarksdale. People can't even afford a ride to Clarksdale to get there and sign up for Obamacare."

Even those who have already done some homework on their own still aren't certain what kind of care and at what cost they'll be able to get by with. For Annette Stevenson, who has health insurance through her job in Clarksdale, it's finding the right coverage for her unemployed 22-year-old son that has her worried.

"I was just wondering, you know, what can I do for him to get on insurance because it's going to be high for me to put him on my insurance for a whole family," she said.

Jonestown store owner Hollis Bryant said he and his wife have been researching possible healthcare options. But, in trying to cover the whole family, the 64-year-old openly wonders if the financial load might be more than he can carry.

"Approximately 20 people," Bryant said. "Yeah, that's a lot of folks and I don't know where to get the funds from. But, something has to be done."

But, despite all the initial obstacles to signing up, Stokes is seeing the big picture of the future of healthcare in America.

"It's a good thing and a bad thing," Stokes said. "The sugar and the sweet. But, it's going to pay out. It's going to be worth it!"

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