The non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the results of its study of employer-provided Tennessee health insurance coverage. During the past decade, an estimated 354,000 Tennesseans or about eight percent) lost employer-based Tennessee health insurance coverage. The number of employees who are losing the option for Tennessee health insurance as an employee benefit or who have to give up coverage as the cost escalates is increasing. According to a similar study by the University of Minnesota, even employees who retained coverage through their employer were spending much more for TN health coverage plans.
The situation in Tennessee is indicative of the national trend as U.S. of employers have been dropping health coverage for workers for many years. The majority of those losing group Tennessee health coverage plans made around $22,050 for a family of four. That means they fell below the poverty guidelines. For almost 60 years, employment had been a standard way for families to get health insurance coverage. With this option fading away, Tennessee’s uninsured rate increased from 9.9 percent in 1999 to 17.1 percent by 2009.
Even those employees who continue to get health insurance on the job face higher out-of-pocket costs than ever. According to Philip Johnson, a partner at the Memphis-based Argyle Benefits Consultants, companies are increasing employee health care contributions even while salaries are staying the same of decreasing. That means out-of-pocket charges are taking a bigger share of workers’ incomes and absorbing more of the family budget each year.
The Affordable Care Act will require employers with 50 or more employees to offer health coverage or pay a penalty per employee in 2014. At that time, employees will also be able to buy TN health coverage plans through the Tennessee health coverage exchange. This is expected to bring down the average cost of insurance by increasing the competition between insurers.
Can Group Tennessee Health Insurance Be Replaced?
Until 2014, both small businesses and individuals are turning to polices with high deductibles to keep the cost of premiums down. The amount of the deductible and the type of managed care (like HMO or PPO) can make a huge difference in monthly premiums.
Now that regular preventive care services are exempt from both co-payments and deductibles, plans with high deductibles are less likely to discourage people from getting an annual check-up, screenings for major diseases like cancer and high blood pressure or flu shots.
Some of the high-deductible Tennessee health coverage plans go a step further. Health Savings Account (HSA) Plans allow you to start a special type of savings account. These Health Savings Accounts can be used to invest in simple interest-bearing accounts, bonds, mutual funds or stocks. Regardless of the type of investment, HSA money grows with tax-free earnings and the balance rolls over from year to year.
HSA funds can be used to cover your health care or that of your family. Alternatively, HSA money can be left invested until retirement to double as a retirement account. Health Savings Accounts may be the best alternative to keep premiums low until the Tennessee health insurance exchange is available. With the growing popularity of these plans, Health Savings Accounts may even be competitive with coverage available through the state exchange.