Tennessee State Specific Strategies

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Cover Tennessee- In March 2006, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen (D) proposed several coverage expansions to the legislature. On June 5, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 3895 which contains several coverage components including: CoverKids (SCHIP, described above), CoverTN, AccessTN (high risk pool) and CoverRX.

The CoverTN program aims to provide new, portable, and affordable coverage for the working uninsured in Tennessee who earn less than $55,000 per year, as well as for small businesses that do not currently offer insurance. The state issued a request for proposals for an insurance plan administrator for CoverTN. The state set guidelines that require carriers selected to include a choice between two benefit packages. The benefit plans must emphasize preventative care and premiums must average $150 per member per month. Of the five responses received, the state awarded both benefit packages to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Both plans provide first dollar coverage. They have a yearly limit of $25,000 per person along with limits on prescription drugs and physician visits. It emphasizes preventive care and healthy lifestyles. As of February 2009, about 18,000 individuals were enrolled in the program and there were more than 6,500 firms participating.[1],[2]

After the state and the employer each contribute about one-third of the total premium, individuals pay between $37 and $109 per month depending on age, tobacco use, and body weight. In order to participate, the employee must work an average of 20 hours per week and have been without coverage for at least six months. Alternatively, an individual who is self-employed or working for a non-offering firm and who is willing to pay two-thirds of the premium can participate as long as he or she earns below $55,000 per year and has been uninsured for at least six months. Once purchased, the coverage is portable and can even cover the individual during periods of unemployment. Plus, starting January 1, 2009, the plans are offered to “Tennesseans Between Jobs” who are recently unemployed or who have recently had their hours reduced. 

1 For more information on the CoverTN program, see http://www.covertn.gov/web/brochure_covertn.pdf
2State of the States, State Coverage Initiatives, January 2009, available at http://www.statecoverage.org/node/1296