The Greater Meridian Health Clinic treats all those who enter its doors, whether they have insurance or not. Over the past five years, officials have noted that more and more people have either lost their insurance or have not been able to pay for health insurance, which has caused an increase in those seeking Medicaid assistance.
"The Medicaid population is where there is an increase in services and increase in demand," says Wilbert Jones, CEO of the Greater Meridian Health Clinic. "The Medicaid eligible, people that are eligible but don't have Medicaid, there's a significant growth in that population group."
Jones stresses the importance of Medicaid because it allows those who cannot afford health insurance, or work for an employer who cannot provide it, the opportunity to receive medical care. Medicaid is not, as Jones describes, a cash benefit for those enrolled.
"So the Medicaid program, again, people misunderstand that. They say it appears to be a cash benefit for them. It is not a cash benefit for the individual. It is a health benefit. It is a health insurance. It is something that will allow them to stay healthy, to function at school, to function at work," says Jones.
With so many people eligible for Medicaid, Jones believes that many health problems could be cleared up if the state opts into the expanded Medicaid program.
"If Mississippi buys in, those individuals will be covered; many of those individuals will be covered. They will have an insurance card, and problems that might be going on with that individual, they won't delay a visit to a doctor," Jones adds.
The Greater Meridian Health Clinic has been serving people in Lauderdale, Kemper, Winston, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha counties for 25 years and has clinics in Meridian, DeKalb, Scooba, Louisville, and Starkville.