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The Impact of TennCare: A Survey of Recipients 2012The number of uninsured Tennesseans has dropped to its lowest total since 2008, according to a UT study released today.

The rate of uninsured children increased slightly from last year, however, going from 2.4 percent to 2.7 percent, the report states.

These findings are included in “The Impact of TennCare: A Survey of Recipients 2012,” prepared by UT’s Center for Business and Economic Research. The report’s authors are Bill Fox, CBER director; LeAnn Luna, CBER associate professor; and William Hamblen, CBER research associate.

TennCare is the state’s expanded Medicaid program, which offers medical assistance for low-income children, pregnant women, and disabled adults.

This year, uninsured Tennesseans—an estimated 577,813—represent 9.2 percent of the state’s 6.3 million residents. Not only is it the lowest total since 2008, it is also the lowest percentage of uninsured residents since 2005.

The purpose of the annual study was to determine the insurance status of Tennessee residents, their use of medical facilities, and how satisfied they were with services received.

The underlying reason Tennesseans lack insurance is the perception that they can’t afford it. That reason has not changed much since TennCare was implemented in 1994.

The report also looked at where TennCare recipients first go when they need medical attention—a doctor’s office, a clinic, or whether they go directly to a hospital.

The number of TennCare recipients initially seeking care at a doctor’s office went down this year compared to last year, dropping from 80 percent to 75 percent. The decrease was offset by an increasing number of adults who initially sought care at clinics and hospitals.

“TennCare recipients continue to report seeing physicians on a more frequent basis than the average Tennessee household,” the report states.

TennCare recipients indicated high levels of satisfaction with the level of care received from the program, with 93 percent of them saying they were “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied.”

“The satisfaction levels are consistent with the satisfaction levels in the last several years,” the report states.

The survey interviewed about 5,000 heads of households by telephone between May and July 2012. It is a regular follow-up to previous surveys conducted since 1993, the last year of Medicaid before the state adopted TennCare.

CBER conducted the survey under contract with the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

Read the report in its entirety here. (pdf)


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,

Bill Fox (865-974-6112,