More and more Mississippians are finding themselves without health insurance, and that's putting a big strain on hospitals and other consumers.

" /> The 21% Uninsured Mississippians are Straining Health Care Providers | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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The 21% Uninsured Mississippians are Straining Health Care Providers

By Daniel Cherry | Published 14 Sep 2011 07:53pm | comments

More than one out of every five Mississippians do not have health insurance. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the hundreds of thousands without coverage are putting a strain on health care providers in the state.

Kim McLemore works at a salon in Jackson. Her employer offers insurance, but she can't afford to buy in. Every day she drives an hour one way to work. She says spending that much time on the road, and the thought of getting sick often weighs heavy on her mind.

"I'm sure there's been times that I was kind of sick and just didn't go to the doctor, and if I had insurance I probably would. It's kind of scary to think about if I was there and I couldn't be treated because I don't have insurance. Because that happens to people all the time."

She's just one of more than 600 thousand Mississippians who don't have health insurance according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2000 65 percent of Americans received insurance through their employer. Ron Pollack, the Executive Director of Families USA, an organization for health care consumers says last year only 55 percent got that same coverage.

"Fewer and fewer people can get coverage the way we used to get coverage, through the workplace. More and more people are dependent on safety net coverage, programs like Medicaid in order to have a lifeline so that they can get healthcare."

Hospitals are feeling the pinch as the numbers grow. Dr. Scott Stringer is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says for every one percent without insurance, the hospital loses seven million dollars. Losses mean hospitals have to change their strategy.

"You can no longer afford to care for those that cannot otherwise afford to pay, and you end up cutting services, unable to provide new equipment, unable to provide, for example, transplants in our state. People would have to go out of state for those things."

Mississippi is the 4th worst in the nation for uninsured residents.

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