CoverTN to Suspend Enrollment to New Members

Thursday, November 12, 2009 | 3:04am
NASHVILLE – CoverTN program officials today announced that new enrollment in the limited benefit health insurance program will suspend Dec. 31, 2009, as a result of reaching budget capacity due to the most successful open enrollment in the program’s history. 
The better-than-expected success of the open enrollment period marks yet another milestone for CoverTN as the program surpasses its enrollment target.
“This really is a bittersweet moment for CoverTN,” said Gerald Reed, director of CoverTN. “We’re coming off an open enrollment period that resulted in more than 2,500 new members, which demonstrates the need for this program. At the same time, we must continue to manage the program within our budget capacity, which for now means we need to suspend new enrollment.”
Current members and participating businesses, as well as those who have been approved for effective coverage in January 2010, will be unaffected by the suspension. Any business or individual wishing to begin the enrollment process has until Nov. 30, 2009 to pre-qualify with the state, which can be done by visiting
Currently, businesses and the self-employed that have pre-qualified for CoverTN through the state’s Web site have up to one year to enroll in the program, while individuals have no time limit for enrollment. In light of the enrollment suspension, all businesses and individuals who have pre-qualified but have not yet enrolled with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee must do so by Dec. 31, 2009. 
Since launching in 2007, CoverTN has provided basic health coverage for the state’s working uninsured through partnership between the state, small employers and individuals. Monthly premiums are divided into thirds, with the state paying one-third of the cost for each member.
The plan has seen steady growth since its inception and has sought to enroll those Tennesseans who lacked insurance because no options for coverage existed. With the affordable, preventive-focused benefits of CoverTN, the state’s uninsured have a viable option for receiving quality, basic health care.
In 2008, CoverTN introduced an eligibility category for the recently unemployed known as Tennesseans Between Jobs. This allowed those who had lost health coverage as a result of lay-offs or work hour reductions to come into the program. The category has seen continued growth as a result of the economic downturn, with more than 1,500 members in just under a year.
“This program started with a very targeted population in mind that has not historically been a focus of the industry,” Reed added. “We’ve maintained our focus on the working uninsured and have been incredibly pleased with the response we’ve had. Our member satisfaction levels are high and retention in the program is comparable to other commercial products.”
This change for CoverTN follows the October announcement that CoverKids, Tennessee’s health coverage program for uninsured children, will suspend enrollment on Nov. 30, also due to budget limitations.
CoverTN 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 CoverKids, a free comprehensive health insurance program for qualifying children 18-years-old and younger. CoverRx provides Tennesseans who lack pharmacy benefits with access to affordable prescriptions and AccessTN offers comprehensive health insurance for those who are uninsurable due to pre-existing medical conditions. 
For more information about any of the Cover Tennessee programs, visit or call 1-866-COVERTN.
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