Note: This article is part of Mississippi Today’s ongoing Mississippi Health Care Crisis project. Read more about the project by clicking here.

Hundreds of thousands of Mississippians fall within what’s called the “coverage gap” — they work lower-paying jobs that do not offer health insurance, but they also do not qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage.

About 12% of Mississippians are uninsured, meaning they cannot afford basic health care, let alone cover the costs of emergency care.

Hospitals, dozens of which are in financial crisis across the state, must provide care to uninsured patients and cover the costs themselves. This has forced several hospitals to close in recent years, and the state’s top health leaders say at least a dozen more are in imminent danger of closing.

READ MORE: ‘What’s your plan, watch Rome burn?’: Politicians continue to reject solution to growing hospital crisis

Q&A: What is Medicaid expansion, really?

Numerous studies have shown that expanding Medicaid — lawmakers choosing to opt into an expanded version of the federal-state health coverage program — would guarantee health care for at least 200,000 primarily working Mississippians who don’t currently have it.

But a handful of state political leaders have rejected expansion for more than a decade, ignoring the nonpartisan, reputable experts who have thoroughly studied the effects of expansion.

Below is an interactive, county-by-county map showing the Mississippi adults who would qualify for Medicaid if state leaders chose to expand.


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Alex Rozier, from New York City, is Mississippi Today’s data and environment reporter. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Open Secrets, and on NBC.com. In 2019, Alex was a grantee through the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines program, which supported his coverage around the impact of climate change on Mississippi fisheries.