Number of Uninsured Tennesseans Has Decreased 25% Since 2013, Study Says

A new study conducted by the University of Tennessee shows that the number of people in Tennessee without health insurance has dropped by 25% in the last year. This represents the lowest number of uninsured Tennesseans in a decade.

According to the study, released Nov. 17, 7.2% of the state’s 6.5 million residents do not have health insurance. About 2.4% of children are uninsured, which is a 35% drop since 2013.

“The declines coincide with the establishment of the Health Insurance Marketplace, which was put into place in early 2014 through the Affordable Care Act,” a press release from the university notes.

Study Methodology

The survey, administered by the university’s Center for Business and Economic Research in a contract with the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, has been conducted each year since 1993. This was the final year of Medicaid before the adoption of TennCare in the state.

Data was collected from telephone interviews with 5,000 heads of households between May and July 2014.

The study’s purpose is not only to determine insurance status, but also to compile data on use of medical facilities and to collect satisfaction reports.

Insurance in Tennessee

Of those surveyed, 93% said they were satisfied with the medical care provided by TennCare, marking the sixth consecutive year that satisfaction ratings have topped 90%.

While health insurance rates are rising, other vital kinds of insurance are still neglected by many Americans. For example, three out of 10 American households have no members with life insurance.

The study also sought to understand the underlying causes for people remaining uninsured. These reasons, according to the report’s authors, have for the most part stayed consistent since TennCare’s 1994 implementation.

“The major reason that people continue to report being uninsured is their perception that they cannot afford insurance,” the report reads.

One notable change, however, is that 12% said that they did not have insurance because they do not need it, more than twice the percentage who gave that reason in last year’s survey.

The full report, titled “The Impact of TennCare: A Survey of Recipients, 2014,” is available online.

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