Better benefits, rate freeze announced for CoverTNannounced for CoverTN

Better benefits, rate freeze announced for CoverTNannounced for CoverTN

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 9:16 pm
By: AP


NASHVILLE (AP) — There will be no rate increase for Tennessee’s CoverTN adult health care program in 2009, Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Tuesday.

Bredesen, a Democrat, also said the state will double the number of annual preventive care doctor’s visits to 12. Other changes to take effect on Jan. 1 include eliminating the quarterly maximum for diabetes medicines, and reducing copays for those medications and supplies from $25 to $10.

Open enrollment for the program that currently serves nearly 16,000 adults is in October.

The CoverTN program targets the uninsured who aren’t eligible for Medicaid. Under the plan, the state kicks in one-third of the monthly premium, while employers have the option of paying for another third. Each third averages $54 per month. Bredesen said he hopes that the improved benefits will help attract more enrollees to the program, but that’s not the primary motivation for the changes.

“We kind of agreed to spend $50 a month on the program, and if you’re not spending that much per person, you kind of have an obligation to come back and find some other ways to do it,” he said. Bredesen said the state can afford to improve to boost benefits because program costs have been lower than anticipated.

“Individual costs of this insurance — the medical loss ratios — are turning out to be better than we originally programmed,” he said at a news conference. “So we’re able to feed that money back into some additional new benefits.” The state has additional unspent CoverTN money because enrollment has come in below projections. But that money is not being used to improve benefits, Bredesen said. Tuesday’s announcement comes just weeks after the state announced it will offer the CoverTN plan to unemployed and underemployed workers. The new category is called Tennesseans Between Jobs.

Tennessee last year introduced CoverTN after looking to revamp its approach to state subsidized health care after budget pressures led officials to scale back TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program, by 170,000 adults in 2005.


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Published in The Messenger 10.01.08


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