An estimated 46,000 Mississippi children were uninsured last year, a number that has increased about 24% since 2016, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Mississippi’s experience is part of a national trend that left an estimated 726,000 more children without health coverage nationwide from 2016 to 2019. Much of the coverage gains of the Affordable Care Act for children have now been eliminated. Coverage losses have been concentrated in the South.
“For decades, children’s health coverage had been a national success story that we could point to, but the data shows that during the years of the Trump Administration the trend is now going in the wrong direction,” said Georgetown University Center for Children and Families Executive Director Joan Alker. “What’s worse, the number of children losing coverage accelerated from 2018 to 2019 during a time when unemployment was very low. The situation is likely worse today.”
Mississippi’s uninsured rate for children had one of the largest jumps in the country moving from 4.8% in 2016 to 6.1% in 2019. The increase in the number and rate of uninsured children occurred prior to the pandemic and associated economic downturn and is likely attributable to losses of public coverage – primarily Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The situation has most likely deteriorated in 2020 for children as their parents lost their jobs and health coverage this year, but there is still no reliable data to estimate the extent of these coverage losses.
“This report shows a significant and growing number of Mississippi’s children are going without health coverage,” said Linda Dixon, Health Law Director for Mississippi Center for Justice. “And with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we know that kids and families in Mississippi need more support to get through these tough times. We can and must reverse this damaging trend to prevent long-term harm to children and families across Mississippi.”
Research shows children with health coverage are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and grow up to be healthier and more productive adults.
Dixon continues, “This data proves that it’s more important than ever to help Mississippi’s children and families gain access to quality, affordable health coverage. We must pursue efforts to expand Medicaid, enroll children in CHIP and address health disparities which will all go a long way to improving the lives of children and families across Mississippi. The Mississippi Center for Justice is renewing our commitment to pursuing these kinds of policies to help ensure kids get health coverage and access to the care they need to grow and thrive.”
The report analyzes single-year estimates of summary data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) from 2016 through 2019.