Study: TennCare Satisfaction at its Highest

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Overall enrollee satisfaction with the TennCare program is at its highest level, according to a UT report released today.

Ninety-five percent of TennCare recipients surveyed expressed satisfaction with the care they received, the highest level since the program’s inception.

This finding is included in “The Impact of TennCare: A Survey of Recipients 2013,” prepared by UT’s Center for Business and Economic Research. The report’s authors are William Hamblen, CBER research associate; LeAnn Luna, CBER associate professor; and Bill Fox, CBER director.

TennCare is the state’s Medicaid program, which provides health care for low-income children; families; pregnant women; and aged, blind, or disabled adults.

The purpose of the annual study is to determine the insurance status of Tennessee residents, collect information about their use of medical facilities, and gauge the extent of their satisfaction with services received.

The study did not examine the Affordable Care Act in relation to TennCare.

“TennCare continues to receive positive feedback from its recipients, indicating the program is providing medical care in a satisfactory manner and up to the expectations of those it serves,” the report states.

The report also looked at where TennCare recipients first go when they need medical attention—a doctor’s office, a clinic, or directly to a hospital.

The portion of TennCare recipients initially reporting that they seek care at hospitals this year was 6 percent, compared to 10 percent last year.

“This decrease in TennCare adults initially seeking care at hospitals has been accompanied by an increase in the portion of TennCare adults initially seeking care at a doctor’s office,” the report states.

In 2013, 80 percent of recipients stated that they sought initial care at a doctor’s office, compared to 75 percent in 2012.

The report also showed that the number of uninsured adults and children in Tennessee increased slightly this year compared to 2012. In 2013, uninsured Tennesseans—an estimated 611,368 individuals—represent 9.6 percent of the state’s 6.4 million residents, whereas 9.2 percent reported being uninsured last year. The number of uninsured children also increased, to 3.7 percent this year from 2.7 percent last year.

The underlying reason most Tennesseans lack insurance is the perception that they cannot afford it.

This year, 83 percent of uninsured people cited unaffordability as a major reason for not having insurance, a 5 percent decrease from 2012, according to the report.

The survey, which interviewed about 5,000 heads of households by telephone between May and July 2013, is a regular follow-up to previous surveys conducted since 1993, the last year of Medicaid before the state adopted TennCare.

CBER conducted the survey under contract with the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

Read the report in its entirety online.

CONTACTS:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)

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

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