UT Study: Uninsured Tennesseans Decreases; TennCare Satisfaction Remains High

The number of Tennesseans without insurance declined in 2007, and those who remained with TennCare continued to express satisfaction.

That is according to “The Impact of TennCare: A Survey of Recipients 2007” released today by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

The survey also found the efforts to educate TennCare enrollees about the most cost-effective ways to get medical care appear to be paying off in fewer emergency room visits and more visits to doctors’ offices.

“The trends seen in this year’s survey are very positive. The uninsurance rate for all Tennesseans declined to 10 percent in 2007 after a significant increase last year. The uninsurance rate for children fell even more dramatically to stand at 4.8 percent,” said Bill Fox, professor of economics and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.

“Further, Tennesseans continue to express a high degree of satisfaction with TennCare while increasingly adjusting to more cost effective health care options,” he said.

The estimated number of uninsured Tennesseans decreased this year to 608,234 or about 10 percent of the state population from 649,479 or about 10.7 percent in 2006.

The survey found 90 percent of people enrolled in TennCare responded either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied, an increase from 87 percent in 2006. The satisfaction rate is considerably higher than in 1994 when it was 61 percent in the first year of TennCare.

The quality of information provided to TennCare recipients improved in 2007, and the survey found the information was leading the enrollees to make better choices about their health care.

The number of TennCare enrollees seeking care at hospital emergency rooms in 2007 was the lowest level of any year. Only 4 percent reported going to the hospital first, down from 7 percent in 2006 and 14 percent in 1993.

There also were increases in visits to doctor offices with 86 percent of TennCare adults and 72 percent of TennCare children reported going to the doctor at least every few months. Researchers said more frequent doctor visits could signal increased preventive medical care or reflect a greater need for medical services.

The state Department of Finance and Administration contracted with the UT Center for Business and Economic Research to conduct the survey. This survey is a regular follow-up to previous surveys conducted since 1993, the last year of Medicaid before TennCare was adopted.

The survey interviewed 5,000 heads of households by telephone between May and July 2007.

To review the entire survey, visit http://cber.bus.utk.edu/.


Contacts:

Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, 865-974-5179, elizabeth.davis@tennessee.edu

Bill Fox, 865-974-6112, billfox@utk.edu

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