New report – A Profile of Mississippi’s Low-Wage Uninsured Workers

New data released today from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families finds that Mississippi restaurant, retail, and construction workers are among thethousands of uninsured residents that would be eligible for health insurance if the state expanded Medicaid.


“It’s time to address the needs of Mississippi’s working families by ensuring that they have access to the health insurance they need to get and stay healthy and take care of themselves and their families,” said Linda Dixon, Director of Health Law and Public Benefits, Mississippi Center for Justice.


The recently passed American Rescue Plan provides financial incentives for states to expand Medicaid.  Estimates suggest that Mississippi would see a net gain of $400 million over two years, fully covering the cost of expansion.


Currently in Mississippi, childless adults and parents with children at home have very limited or no access to Medicaid. A single parent with one child earning $400/month is ineligible for coverage.  Under Medicaid expansion, individuals earning up to $17,775 annually would be eligible.


“This data shows that cooks, cashiers, and housekeepers across the state are the workers most likely be uninsured,” said Joan Alker, Executive Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and lead author of the report.  “These workers are simultaneously confronting the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicaid expansion could bring them financial security knowing that they could get health care and keep their jobs without going bankrupt due to unexpected medical bills. And with the enhanced federal funds jobs and economic activity would be created.”


The report also finds that low-wage working women are more likely to be uninsured and could be eligible for health insurance with Medicaid expansion.  Medicaid would cover doctor visits, prenatal care, and well child check-ups among other things, helping improve the health of Moms and newborns.  Mississippi now has a maternal mortality rate higher than the national average.


“The COVID relief package helps states make health insurance and access to care a possibility for more children and families,” emphasized Dixon. In Mississippi, more than 166,000 low-wage workers would gain quality health insurance at a time when so many have lost their jobs and their health coverage.”