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.
Although the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covers uninsured children up to age 19 whose family income does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level, some children in Mississippi remain uninsured. There are 41,203 Mississippi children enrolled in CHIP as of October, according to the Division of Medicaid.
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. It would also cover these currently uninsured children.
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 children who would qualify for Medicaid if state leaders chose to expand.