Tennessee Health Insurance
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. This act was designed to protect the interests of patients and keep the cost of health insurance low.
Health insurance companies must provide full coverage for preventive health care, meet consistent quality and price criteria, and cannot deny coverage to people based on pre-existing conditions. This helps standardize insurance plans between companies and makes shopping for insurance more simple.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, individuals must purchase their own health insurance if they are not already covered through their employer or another group plan. Starting in 2015, businesses must offer insurance to their employees if they have more than 50 workers, and both groups are subject to tax penalties if insurance coverage is not obtained.
The ACA has faced political opposition in many states, and parts of the act are still controversial. In Tennessee, Sen. Brian Kelsey introduced the Stop Obamacare Act, which was passed March 6, 2014. This act is in place to prevent the state from participating in the Medicaid expansion that many other states have chosen to enact as part of the ACA.
Additionally, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in 2012 announced his intention to prevent a state-based health insurance exchange. This means Tennessee residents must turn to the federal insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov to purchase ACA-compliant coverage during open enrollment.
What is a health insurance marketplace?
A health insurance exchange, or marketplace, is a website where people can shop for individual insurance policies and compare plans between companies. The purpose of the site is to encourage competition between insurers while making it easy for individuals to see their options for affordable health coverage.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, each state was given the option of establishing its own exchange. States that did not wish to participate, such as Tennessee, are covered by the federal exchange. This is located at HealthCare.gov, and it provides a national portal for people to shop for insurance from available local providers.
To use the exchange, you’ll need to establish an account with the website. Once that’s completed, you’ll enter your basic information, including income and family size. You’ll also be asked a few questions about your lifestyle habits, such as whether you smoke.
This information will be used to match you with plans that fit your needs and budget. It will also be used to determine whether you qualify for an insurance subsidy.
Do I qualify for a health insurance subsidy in Tennessee?
Some families may receive federal assistance in paying their Tennessee health insurance bill. This comes in the form of a tax subsidy, which is applied directly to the policy premium, and the amount varies depending on income.
In general, individuals who earn between $11,490 and $45,960 annually and a family of four who earns between $23,550 and $94,200 per year would qualify for a subsidy.
Generally, subsidy eligibility will be determined using 2013 poverty level guidelines, and Medicaid and CHIP eligibility will depend on 2014 limits.
Health insurance companies participating in Tennessee
Tennessee residents can purchase insurance from the following ACA-compliant insurance providers:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee
- Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co.
- Community Health Alliance
- Humana Insurance Co.
Health care for low-income families in Tennessee
Some states have chosen to expand Medicaid to provide coverage to low-income households, but Tennessee is not participating in this expansion. However, children and their parents can still receive Medicaid benefits.
Infants whose families earn below $1,867 per month can receive benefits. Children with monthly household incomes below $1,360 can also receive Medicaid. Additionally, the Children’s Health Insurance Program offers health care to children whose families earn less than $2,394 per month. Parents who earn a monthly income of up to $1,015 may qualify for Medicaid.
Tennessee health and coverage statistics
Tennessee population (2013): 6,495,978
Population 65 and older (2012): 14.2 percent
Life expectancy (2010): 76.3 years
Number of Medicaid beneficiaries (2012): 1,146,300
Number of Medicare beneficiaries (2012): 950,800
Estimated number of uninsured residents (2012): 866,700
Overall state health ranking: 42
Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation, U.S. Census Bureau, America’s Health Rankings 2014 report.
Tennessee health insurance resources
Federal marketplace: HealthCare.gov
Tennessee Department of Health: http://health.state.tn.us/
TennCare (Medicaid): http://www.tn.gov/tenncare/
CoverKids Tennessee: http://www.covertn.gov/web/cover_kids.html
Kaiser Family Foundation: http://kff.org/tag/tennessee/