Tennessee seeks advice on health plans

Tennessee seeks advice on health plans

August 2nd, 2012 by Mariann Martin in News

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Photo by Tracey Trumbull /Times Free Press.


For more information about the insurance plans being considered, visit http://tn.gov/commerce/insurance/ehb/health_essentials.shtml

Written comments and related materials may also be submitted through Aug. 10. Email them to PubComm.HRF@tn.gov or mail them to Chlora A. Lindley-Myers, Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, 500 James Robertson Parkway, 12th Floor, Nashville TN 37243.

Tennessee officials are asking for input on what kind of essential health benefits residents would like to see in insurance plans offered under the federal health care law.

State officials will choose from nine benchmark plans - which consist of the primary insurance plans offered in the state - and select one. That plan will serve as the "floor" for any health insurance plans offered on the Tennessee health exchange, Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak said.

The exchanges, scheduled to be up and running by January 2014, are intended to work as one-stop shops for people and small businesses to find, compare and buy health insurance.

"We want to know what plan best fits the needs of Tennesseans," McPeak said Wednesday morning at a meeting at Lee University in Cleveland.

McPeak is conducting meetings across the state to gather comments and feedback. Residents can also email or mail comments to the Department of Commerce and Insurance. She said she will compile all the feedback she has received and recommend one plan to Gov. Bill Haslam by a September deadline.

About 20 people attended the Cleveland meeting, and several voiced concerns and offered comments about the plans.

Dr. B.W. Ruffner, an oncologist and past president of the Tennessee Medical Association, urged McPeak to ensure that the plan offers adequate coverage for prescription drugs and behavioral health services such as mental-health treatment, among other suggestions.

Ruffner said he supports an insurance exchange that is well-designed and offers affordable plans to Tennessee residents.

Even though the state will have only one benchmark plan, many different plans will be offered on the exchange as long as they meet the minimum plan.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the selected plan should cover a minimum of care that includes ambulatory and emergency services, hospitalization, maternity, mental health, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, labs, preventive services and pediatric care.

McPeak said feedback on what residents are looking for has varied across the state. Preventive services, wellness and nutrition are services many people have said they think should be covered, she said.

"We've had a lot of people talk about how health benefits have affected their lives," McPeak said.