Study: Tennessee’s Uninsured Number Up Slightly; But Still Near 20-Year Low

Friday, December 1, 2017 - by LeeAnn Luna

The Impact of TennCare: A Survey of Recipients, 2017, released by UT’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, summarizes findings from a survey conducted between May and July.

The survey also measures the success of the TennCare program, including the overall satisfaction of TennCare recipients. In 2017, 95 percent of respondents reported satisfaction with services received from TennCare, representing an improvement of 3 percentage points over the 2016 satisfaction level and tying the highest result in the history of the survey. Furthermore, 2017 was the ninth year in a row that satisfaction levels exceeded 90 percent.

The report, authored by LeAnn Luna, a Boyd Center accounting professor, and Emily Pratt, a Boyd Center research associate, examines the health insurance status of Tennessee residents, collects information about recipients’ use of medical facilities, and gauges recipient satisfaction with services received.

Read and download the full report.

“We are pleased to see the satisfaction rate among the individuals we serve in the TennCare program continue to grow,” said Wendy Long, deputy commissioner and director of TennCare. “These high satisfaction levels reflect our ongoing commitment to improve Tennessee lives through the delivery of high-quality cost-effective care.”

Other highlights from this year’s survey:

The reported uninsured rate for children in 2017 is 1.5 percent, which represents an improvement on last year’s rate of 1.8 percent.
Respondents note the inability to afford insurance as the major reason for not being insured, but the percentage of people citing affordability has steadily fallen over time across all income brackets.

Ninety-five percent of all heads of households report seeking care first at a doctor’s office or clinic instead of going to the emergency room, while 91 percent of TennCare heads of household report the same behavior.

The survey, which interviewed approximately 5,000 heads of households by telephone, has been conducted since 1993.

The Boyd Center, located in UT’s Haslam College of Business, conducted the survey under contract with the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.


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