NASHVILLE – The AccessTN board of directors today approved a new policy to allow uninsurable children with chronic and acute medical conditions to enroll in the state-administered health insurance plan. The change will take effect immediately.
As Tennessee’s high risk health insurance plan, AccessTN has provided comprehensive coverage since 2007 for adults who have been denied insurance coverage due to pre-existing health conditions. Until recently, CoverKids had provided coverage to children in similar situations, but suspended new enrollment in November 2009 due to budget limitations.
“With enrollment for new members in CoverKids closed, uninsured children with chronic conditions have fewer options for coverage,” said David Hilley, director of AccessTN. “The AccessTN board voted to expand the program to include children to ensure viable options remain for families with sick children.”
With a current enrollment of more than 3,800 members, each of whom pays a monthly premium for coverage, AccessTN provides comprehensive health insurance to individuals younger than 19, while still managing within its set budget.
Premiums for children will be based on the lowest premium level charged to AccessTN enrollees and will range from $284 to $410 per month. Premium assistance is an option for some families earning less than $75,000. This aid can cover up to 60 percent of the monthly premium, depending on family income, and is subject to available funding.
“Prior to the CoverKids enrollment suspension, families with uninsurable children could buy into that program by paying monthly premiums because they exceeded the income limits to qualify for free coverage,” Hilley added. “Now that enrollment for CoverKids has closed, this keeps a buy-in option open for those families who still need coverage for their children.”
To qualify for AccessTN, an individual must be a Tennessee resident, U.S. citizen or qualified legal alien and be considered uninsurable due to pre-existing health conditions. In addition, applicants must be uninsured for at least three months, though special exclusions apply for those finishing COBRA or TennCare policies, or for those whose employer has cancelled group coverage.
AccessTN is a program of Cover Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen’s initiative to address the health care needs of Tennessee’s uninsured. Cover Tennessee offers three other programs, including CoverTN, a limited benefit health plan for the working uninsured. CoverKids provides free comprehensive health insurance for qualifying children 18-years-old and younger. CoverRx provides Tennesseans who lack pharmacy benefits with access to affordable prescriptions.
New enrollment in CoverKids suspended Dec. 1, 2009. The last day to pre-qualify for CoverTN was Nov. 30. Any businesses or individuals who prequalified for coverage have until Dec. 31, 2009, to enroll with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Both programs are temporarily closing enrollment as a result of limits in the state budget.