A former healthcare executive prior to entering politics, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen inherited the state’s TennCare health insurance program after he took office in 2003.
TennCare was launched to address the needs of the state’s uninsured and Medicare ineligible residents who could not obtain private insurance on the open insurance market due to pre-existing medical conditions or affordability. Several years after TennCare was implemented, several participating insurance companies suffered catastrophic financial losses due to unanticipated demand for enrollment. After several years, TennCare benefits were evaluated and many were eliminated, provoking enrollees and participating medical providers to opt out of the program.
Cover Tennesse (CoverTN) is Governor Bredesen’s new, multi-pronged effort to extend health insurance to Tennessee’s uninsured. Cover Tennessee’s other programs are: CoverKids, comprehensive health insurance for qualifying children 18 years-old and under; AccessTN, comprehensive health insurance for Tennesseans with uninsurable or catastrophic health care conditions; and CoverRx, a pharmacy assistance program providing uninsured Tennesseans access to affordable prescriptions.
Similar to state-administered health insurance programs in other states, CoverTN mandates that enrollees in the program must meet certain income requirements and provide proof that the applicant (and his/her dependants) have been uninsured for at least six months prior to enrolling for benefits under CoverTN. The program has a 12-month pre-existing condition waiting period. No benefits will be paid for medical conditions present during the immediate six months prior to enrolling in CoverTN.
After the member has been enrolled in CoverTN for 12 months, CoverTN will begin covering pre-existing conditions. The pre-existing condition waiting period can be shortened or waived for members with prior creditable coverage who apply within 63 days of an involuntary loss of their coverage.
Effective December, 2009, CoverTN officials announced that new enrollments have been suspended until the state budget can be reconciled.
The business of health insurance is changing. For years, full-time Tennessee employees could rely on group insurance coverage that was largely subsidized by their employer. But today, many Tennessee businesses no longer offer health insurance to employees, a result of state and national reforms to redefine how health insurance is obtained. As a Tennessee resident, individual health insurance is widely available from most major insurance companies. Depending on your needs, you can select from a wide variety of plans to meet your needs, including short term major medical plans; high and low deductible plans; HMOs; and PPOs.
As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, many Tennessee employers are increasing premium rates for employees who seek group health coverage, if it exists at all. This is resulting in a growing number of employers in Tennessee abandoning group health coverage as an employee benefit. Individual coverage is becoming a more attractive option for individuals and families who need affordable healthcare. In response, major insurance carriers are now offering a new line of individual policies that weren’t available before national healthcare reform proposals began circulating in Congress.
Choosing quality, affordable health insurance in Tennessee can be difficult due to the range of plans available. With an increasing number of options and providers, it’s important to carefully compare policies and choose the one that is best for you and your family’s needs.
Normally, family health insurance plans consist on an individual (usually a parent or other adult) adding immediate family members to their policy. Affordable family health insurance usually costs less than having a separate health insurance policy for each person in your family since the financial risk to the insurer is spread between all family members in the plan. A family health insurance plan usually has a higher coverage cap or lower combined deductible than an individual one.
Temporary circumstances don’t need to leave you or your family uninsured. With short term health insurance, you will be protected if a medical emergency strikes. Affordable short term health insurance in Tennessee is similar to standard health insurance, except that temporary health insurance can last anywhere from thirty days to one year. A short term health insurance plan may be for you if there is a short gap in your insurance. For example, if you lost your job and began searching for new employment with health insurance benefits, affordable temporary health insurance can help. Short term health insurance coverage is also suitable for people who are recent college graduates or on strike. With affordable short-term health insurance, you have time to compare and contrast individual health plans and make it through the waiting period without worry.
Student insurance is often overlooked until a major medical catastrophe affects the college-bound child in the family. Since minor children are typically covered under a family health insurance policy, many parents assume that their coverage will follow their college-bound child with them to school.
But many colleges and universities require proof of health insurance for students; even if yours does not, student health insurance will probably end up paying for itself. While your college-bound student may be young and healthy now, sudden illness and accidents can happen. The financial impact of an accident or medical complication while uninsured and in college can result in significant medical debt in addition to student loans!