Last February, four states (namely Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee) were granted a temporary federal waiver that exempted them from meeting national health insurance standards. This allows health insurance for Tennessee plans to continue offering policies that fail to meet standards set forth by The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The long-term goal continues to be that Tennessee health insurance providers will have to increase policy benefits by 2014. The temporary waiver was intended to allow consumers to keep their coverage because limited benefits are better than no health care coverage at all. It was feared that an immediate switch to better health care plans would mean higher insurance quotes than individual policyholders and small business owners would be able to afford.
Under the new health care reform law, health insurance for Tennessee must provide at least $750,000 in health care costs, including services from doctors and hospitals along with prescription medicines. With the waiver granted to Tennessee, insurance plans with lower annual limits on benefits and coverage will still be available for another year.
How Will Health Insurance For Tennessee Change?
The waiver is expected to affect more than 900 Tennessee health insurance plans, which are owned by more than 2.4 million consumers, as stated by the director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.
Although health insurance plans with limited benefits are still inadequate, comprehensive changes are expected to take place by 2014 once the new health care reform law is fully implemented. When The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that all states provide exchanges, individuals and small businesses will have more choices in coverage.
State exchanges are expected to cover at least 24 million consumers. The Tennessee exchange will be required to offer five different benefit levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Premium and Catastrophic. More people will be able to insure to cover medical care, but most U.S. citizens will be required to join the risk pool to help keep rates in check. Penalties will be imposed if those who do not qualify for subsidies to help them afford coverage fail to carry minimal Tennessee coverage.
With new standards for health plans, out-of-pocket health care expenses will be limited to $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families. As for deductibles, these will be limited to between $2,000 and $4,000.
Employers will also be required to offer “free choice vouchers” to eligible employees. For households with income below a certain level, the vouchers will help to provide minimum coverage and help more families gain protection.
With lower insurance quotes available, it’s expected that unreimbursed care will also decrease. That could go along way to stabilize financial budgets of hospitals and increase the quality of service available in emergency rooms.