In 2012, approximately 45 million Americans did not have health insurance coverage; this included more than 575,000 residents of Tennessee. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about 56 percent of all working-age adults in this state currently receive their medical insurance coverage through their employers. The remaining residents who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and who cannot get coverage through a spouse or parent must purchase health insurance on their own in order to be covered. If you are a Tennessee resident who needs health insurance for yourself or your family, this is a great time to start comparing policies and quotes.
CDC Health Snapshot of Tennessee Residents
- In 2007, about 34% of all screened TN adults showed high levels of cholesterol.
- That same year, 34% of all TN adults reported a high blood pressure diagnosis, and another 34% had an arthritis diagnosis.
- In 2005, an estimated 11% of all adult residents in TN had a diabetes diagnosis.
- The American Cancer society reports that there were approximately 28,440 new cases of cancer in TN in 2007 alone.
- Of those, 3,100 were colorectal cancer and 3,690 were breast cancer.
More than half of all adult residents of Tennessee have one or more chronic diseases. These diseases, particularly if left untreated for a number of years, can lead to expensive medical costs. Fortunately, early intervention can make treatment more effective and efficient.
The good news is that all medical insurance providers must now fully cover age-appropriate testing such as colonoscopies and mammograms. These tests are extremely effective at detecting the presence of cancer and other problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.
What Is the Tennessee Health Care Exchange?
The Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act includes an individual mandate, meaning that all uninsured U.S. citizens must obtain health insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty. This mandate was necessary to keep coverage costs low. As part of this new law, the state of Tennessee has set up a healthcare exchange (also sometimes called a marketplace) through which residents can purchase health insurance coverage at low group rates.
To be eligible to purchase through the Tennessee Healthcare Exchange, you must have no access to health insurance through your employer and must not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Quotes for policies purchased through the exchange are determined mainly by your age, the number of family members you need to insure, your annual household income and whether you use tobacco products. This coverage should be affordable to most people since those who make the least money will be eligible for the largest discounts through federal subsidies.
2007 Health Risk Factors in Tennessee as Reported by the CDC
- Approximately 24% of adults and 26% of high school students smoke cigarettes.
- About 67% of adults and 18% of high school students in this state are overweight.
- An estimated 74% of adults and 82% of high school students eat fewer than five servings of fruits or vegetables every day.
- About 61% of adults in TN do not engage in sufficient physical activity.
- 20% of Tennessee women over the age of 40 state they have not had a mammogram in the past two years.
- 44% of TN adults over the age of 50 have never had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
- In 2007, 17% of this state’s adults under 65 reported having no medical insurance coverage.
Citizens of Tennessee who do not have access to medical insurance coverage may try to save money by doing without medical examinations and only seeking out medical treatment when they are extremely ill or severely injured. If you have medical insurance, your plan will cover all of your preventive care, including age-appropriate screening tests, at no cost to you.
Major Illnesses Create Financial Hardships for the Uninsured
A major illness such as cancer or heart disease can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care, particularly if surgeries or time spent in the ICU is included as part of your treatment. The uninsured must pay these costs out of pocket, even when doing so is completely unmanageable. As a result, overwhelming medical bills account for approximately half of all individual bankruptcy filings in the United States. In 2011 alone, 45,949 people in Tennessee filed for personal bankruptcy. In many cases, health insurance coverage could have prevented this financial hardship.
Tobacco use also leads to very high healthcare costs. The CDC reports that an estimated 438,000 Americans die prematurely because of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke and that, for every one person who dies, another 20 suffer from at least one major tobacco-related illness. In a state where approximately one in four adults smoke cigarettes, these costs have really added up. In 2004 alone, residents of Tennessee spent about $2.17 billion on smoking-related healthcare expenditures, as follows:
- $374 million on ambulatory care
- $1.05 billion on in-patient hospital care
- $167 million on nursing home care
- $423 million on prescription drugs
- $149 million on other, miscellaneous expenses
If you are a smoker, be aware that quitting now can start having a positive impact on your overall health in as little as seven days. You may want to ask your doctor about existing smoking cessation programs, medications and treatments.
Get Help Comparing Health Insurance Quotes in Tennessee
Reviewing health insurance information can be confusing. There are a number of different plans, coverage levels, deductibles, co-pays and premiums available, making it tricky to determine which policy is the best choice for you and your family. You don’t have to try to figure everything out on your own. An independent insurance agent in the Trusted Choice® network can assist you by answering your insurance-related questions and helping you find and review plans on the Tennessee healthcare exchange as well as the private market.
Contact a member agent near you to learn more about your coverage options and to start comparing medical insurance quotes.