Mississippi has made modest efforts to protect consumers from high and rising healthcare costs. The state enacted surprise medical bill protections prohibiting providers from balance billing. However, providers continue to send patients balance bills and residents are often not informed enough to dispute the bill.
Mississippi consistently ranks as one of the least healthy states, with higher than average rates of obesity, diabetes, smoking, avoidable hospital use and mortality amenable to healthcare. A 2019 report also revealed that Mississippi was ranked the worst state to have a baby.
In order to address some of the problems associated with long-term care, Mississippi enacted an Elderly and Disabled Medicaid Waiver program to help low-income elderly or disabled individuals that require nursing home care but would prefer to live at home. The program provides services such as: support to primary caregivers; adult day care, medical transportation assistance; home health; and home delivered meals.
Due to the state’s significant rural population, the Mississippi Department of Health created the Mississippi State Office of Rural Health Program to help communities build healthcare delivery systems. The Department collects and evaluates data on rural health conditions on rural needs, conducts rural health policy analysis and provides technical assistance to rural community health systems.
A nonprofit incorporated by the president of the Mississippi Hospital Association and others has filed preliminary paperwork to start a ballot Initiative that would put Medicaid expansion in the state constitution, according to Mississippi Today. Mississippi is one of just 12 states that has refused to expand Medicaid, leaving hundreds of thousands of citizens without the ability to afford healthcare coverage and rejecting at least $1 billion per year in federal funds. The planning stages of the ballot initiative signals a broad coalition may be on board with the effort.
Mental health drugs now account for a fourth of all pharmacy spending by private insurance and about a third of pharmacy spending by public payers, such as Medicaid. Spending is expected to increase 60 percent over the coming decades, according to a CMS prediction cited by the Clarion Ledger. This will have a large impact in Mississippi, where approximately 77,000 Medicaid beneficiaries had behavioral health diagnoses (a number that includes children but not infants) in state fiscal year 2019. Restricting access to needed medications can be detrimental in the long run— “69 percent of patients with medication access problems had adverse events compared to 40 percent for patients with no access problems,” according to Joyce West, director of the American Psychiatric Research Network.
Limited healthcare resources, high rates of preexisting conditions among residents and widespread poverty are among the factors that make Mississippi vulnerable, according to the Surgo Foundation's COVID-19 Vulnerability Index, reports the Clarion Ledger. The index is a measure of how at risk a community is when the virus hits. State rankings were based on factors like: resident socioeconomic status; household composition and disability; minority status and language; access to transportation; epidemiological factors; and healthcare system factors.
Residents of Mississippi spent nearly 17 percent of their annual wages on health insurance in 2018—the highest in the nation, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. Spending on premiums and deductibles outpaced wage growth in every state, with the average spending for a single person’s coverage reaching $749, states the Clarion Ledger. Mississippi’s median family income is among the lowest in the country and the percent of income residents contribute to insurance costs grew by nearly 6 percentage points since 2008. Moreover, Mississippians pay a larger share of the premium for their employer-sponsored coverage.
Twenty Mississippi hospitals have filed a civil lawsuit against the companies that manufacture and distribute opioids and drugstore chains such as Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies that sell opioid-based drugs, according to the SunHerald. Mississippi is one of the top five states for opioid distribution per capita, according to the lawsuit, with 92.9 prescriptions written for every 100 people in 2017, compared to the national average of 58.7 per 100. The lawsuit claims that companies “knowingly and intentionally” concealed facts from the medical community and spent millions on “a misinformation campaign.”
WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 30 key measures of cost, healthare accessibility and baby-friendliness and ranked Mississippi as the worst state to have a baby, according to WDAM7. The state ranked near the bottom on infant mortality rate, low birthweight, midwives and OB-GYNs per capita, pediatricians and family doctors per capita and parental-leave policies. More insurers in the state are working with high risk pregnant women to have access to a progesterone medicine can help prevent preterm births. An area where Mississippi moms struggle is access to care. A March of Dimes study last year revealed a major gap in nearly half the state’s counties.
For 2017, Humana’s monthly exchange premiums are expecting to increase, on average, by 43 percent, according to Mississippi News Now. Rate increases are likely a result of growing healthcare and prescription drug costs, higher use of inpatient services, and the phasing out of premium stabilization programs implemented by the Affordable Care Act, according to the article.
Two public nonprofit health systems filed a lawsuit against the state’s Medicaid program to recover up to $20 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments, according to Modern Healthcare. The systems claim they have been underpaid due to funding formulas that unevenly distribute reimbursement among providers.