Written by Getahn Ward I | The Tennessean
Nearly 700,000 Tennesseans will gain new coverage under health-care reform, but those already with insurance might have to wait longer to receive care and younger people overall may have to pay more.
Those are among findings from a report out from a think tank the state’s largest health insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, launched this year to study the interface between public policy and health care.
“It will be a little longer line, but everybody will be in the line,” said Dr. Steven L. Coulter, president of the insurer’s Tennessee Health Institute and co-author of the report with William T. Cecil, an independent health-care consultant.
The bulk of the new people obtaining coverage would be younger men who become eligible for Medicaid under new guidelines because of their low incomes, according to the report.
The rest will be people who qualify for subsidies to buy insurance policiesthrough state health exchanges starting in 2014.
Expanding insurance coverage without a corresponding increase in the number of primary care doctors, though, could create problems with access to medical care, the study says.
Coulter called for a coordinated statewide strategy for increasing primary care. “We’re going to have a lot of new patients, but not going to have any new doctors,” he said.
Tony Garr, policy director with the consumer advocacy group Tennessee Health Care Campaign, said that states would have flexibility in addressing such challenges.
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