When Work Supports Don't Support Work: A Case for Parental Health Coverage in Mississippi

Kalyani Thampi

When Work Supports Don't Support Work: A Case for Parental Health Coverage in Mississippi
Thampi, Kalyani
National Center for Children in Poverty
Persistent URL:
Columbia University. National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Publisher Location:
New York
The recession has wreaked havoc on America's workforce, putting pressure on states to make difficult budgetary choices. As the perennial concern of balancing the budget takes hold of state government, recessionary spending cuts further jeopardize the health and economic security of families. An increasing number of Americans face a large gap between their resources and their expenses, and the safety net is splintering just when workers need it the most. Nowhere is this more evident than in Mississippi, where the unemployment rate in 2009 was 10 percent, significantly higher than the national unemployment rate. More troubling, however, is the precipitous rise in statewide child poverty rates since the start of the recession. In 2009, 30 percent of Mississippi's children lived in poor families versus 28 percent in 2008. In a sluggish economic environment, where costs are rising faster than wages, Mississippians struggle to cover basic needs, such as food, shelter, health care, and child care. For those who can find work, employment alone is not enough. The Family Resource simulator shows that even with full-time employment, low-wage workers in Mississippi cannot cover the cost of basic necessities without the help of work supports, such as food stamps, EITC, public health insurance, and child care subsidies. However, for many Mississippians, these work supports do not adequately support families as they move towards economic security. One of the biggest challenges facing Mississippians is the limited public health care provisions for parents. Medicaid is restrictively low with eligibility levels at 46 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Outside of Medicaid, Mississippi has no state health insurance program for parents. Moreover, the continual decline of employer-sponsored health insurance and the prohibitive costs of private health insurance have led many Mississippians to forego health coverage altogether. More than 500,000 Mississippians went without health insurance in 2009. This situation has negative consequences not only for the health of parents, but for their family's economic security and well-being. This brief uses results from the Family Resource Simulator to analyze Mississippi's work support policies. It also identifies gaps in parental health insurance coverage and recommends policy reforms that could expand coverage among Mississippi's working parents.
Public health
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Suggested Citation:
Kalyani Thampi, , When Work Supports Don't Support Work: A Case for Parental Health Coverage in Mississippi, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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