State Report: Mississippi

November 1, 2009

Commonwealth Fund State Performance Ranking (2009): 51

IN MISSISSIPPI, people are "losing health insurance and choosing to either forgo treatment or join the uninsured filling waiting rooms at subsidized clinics and emergency rooms," the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports. Twenty percent of Mississippians lack health insurance, and since 2000, the percent of Mississippians who have health insurance through their employers has declined from 59% to 49%. Much of that decline has been seen in small business, which make up three-fourths of Mississippi's businesses. Only 28% of those employers offered health benefits, compared to 38% nationally.

RACE INFLUENCES MORTALITY

Mississippi blacks fare worse than their white counterparts in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality, according to a county-by-county report commissioned by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The report is based on the Human Development Index, which examines developing nations in terms of health, education and income. Mississippi was the first state to use the index.

"Mississippi is among the top states in the nation in the spread of HIV and AIDS among pre-teens to young adults, as well as pregnancies in the same age groups," according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July. The CDC report found the rate of young adults age 20 to 24 living with HIV/AIDS was 33.9 cases per 100,000 people.

The state epidemiologist says the findings indicate that the state's abstinence-only approach to sex education is ineffective, and that there are other factors to address. Earlier this year, legislators attempted to establish a pilot sex-education program in a limited number of schools. The bill passed the Mississippi House but died in the Senate without a vote, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

MHE Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Urban Institute; Kaiser Family Foundation; U.S. Census Bureau; The Commonwealth Fund; National Center for Health Statistics

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