Medical & Healthcare

Census Bureau: 46,000 more Tennesseans without health insurance

Jack Daniel Primo Grills

STATE NEWS — According to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state’s uninsured rate rose in 2018 to leave 46,000 more Tennesseans (mostly children and low income individuals) without coverage. This ties Tennessee with Alabama and Arizona for the third highest uninsured rates in the country. The top spot belongs to Idaho followed by South Dakota. The rise brings the state total to about 675,000 uninsured or about one in 10 Tennessee residents. Click here to view the full report. According to the report, 2018 marks the first year to see increases in the numbers of uninsured since the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Nationwide the number of uninsured rose two million to 27.5 million.

The reasons? Well, no one can agree. Some federal officials feel the removal of the personal mandate that required individuals to purchase insurance policies is having an effect. Others, believe the current administration’s reduction in outreach and marketing dollars could explain the drop.

State healthcare officials think TennCare’s switch from paper enrollment to online enrollment affected the numbers of folks applying and/or applying successfully. While some elected officials, point to the failure of states like Tennessee, South Dakota, and Alabama to expand Medicare. Idaho adopted but did not implement state Medicare. In Arizona, immigration policy seems to be affecting numbers. The new “public charge” rule takes effect on October 15, and it broadens the governments ability to penalize immigrants who seek green cards if they’ve previously used taxpayer-funded programs.

Whatever the reason, more uninsured Tennesseans means negative trickle down effects for all of us. The uninsured usually skip preventative care, and wait longer to seek treatment. They often rely on emergency room visits, which is the most expensive form of healthcare. If those fees go unpaid, they get passed along to private insurance patients or result in hospital closures.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (a non-partisan, non-profit that studies the U.S.’s role in global health policies), Tennessee has suffered more rural hospital closures than almost any other state. Ten Tennessee hospitals have closed since 2012 including United Regional Medical Center in Manchester. Kaiser designated 15 others as struggling including Tennova Healthcare in Shelbyville and Manchester Unity Medical Center because they’ve lost money in the past year according to their state filings. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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