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How we’re helping Tennesseans no longer eligible for TennCare

Originally published in The Tennessean, September 2023

Many of us have heard about a family member, friend or neighbor who’s recently lost their Medicaid coverage  or received a notification of pending loss. You may be going through this process yourself.  

This is a nationwide change, and one that’s expected to affect nearly 100 million Americans — including many Tennesseans — as the process plays out now through May 2024. 

States are bound by federal law to periodically review Medicaid health care coverage eligibility and disenroll those who no longer meet its guidelines.

Many Tennesseans at higher risk for health conditions and complications rely on TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to ensure they can get the care they need.

Now, access to that coverage is at risk as states restart the Medicaid eligibility review process. 

Options for those losing coverage

As a health insurer, we owe it to our members to communicate directly with them about this upcoming change and how they might be affected. More than that, we must offer real resources, solutions, and plans of action to offer peace of mind and help meet their needs and those of their loved ones.  

We’ve long supported TennCare members through the efforts of BlueCare Tennessee, a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Working with TennCare, we’ve been able to proactively communicate with members affected by this redetermination. 

The most important message is that these members may be eligible to sign up for Marketplace plans. 

Many people who think they can’t afford a Marketplace plan may be surprised. Up to 90% of Americans losing their Medicaid coverage may qualify for government help that lowers their monthly cost.

And, we’re introducing new plans in 2024 with lower prices. Our Network E and L plans — currently available in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, and expanding to Chattanooga — are designed as a more affordable option and are priced 18% to 20% lower than Network S plans. In 2024, every BlueCross Marketplace plan includes $0 virtual care.   

Steps you can take now

We’ve emphasized to members at risk of losing TennCare coverage that they need not wait to sign up. They can apply and enroll in a Marketplace plan as early as 60 days before their TennCare coverage ends, to avoid a gap in coverage. We’re directing our members to to see if they qualify and to to purchase a plan that works for them. We’re also working directly with our provider partners and our licensed brokers to get the word out. 

Reaching the most people — especially in Tennessee’s rural counties — requires a wide-ranging communications approach.

Our efforts thus far have included a combination of phone calls, text messages, emails, and postcards sent directly to affected members. We’re also pursuing outside-the-box options in collaboration with TennCare and other managed care organizations, including messaging in retail stores. These are just some of the ways we’re trying to meet people where they are. 

Health care costs continue to rise, a fact not lost on us or our members, particularly those who may struggle making ends meet.  We’re continuing to make every effort to minimize those costs and help provide affordable coverage options for our neighbors. 

About Kelly Paulk, Vice President, Product Strategy and Individual Markets

A photo of the authorKelly oversees product strategy for employer group and individual customer markets, provides leadership to operations, sales and strategic marketing areas and serves as the point person for regulatory, compliance and audit processes for the individual product line.

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