; Health Care Reform Will Not Translate To Greater Access To Care For Tennessee’s Minority Populations
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Press Release

Health Care Reform Will Not Translate To Greater Access To Care For Tennessee’s Minority Populations

New BlueCross Health Institute White Paper reveals reform will increase coverage, but won’t improve access to care, outcome

May 24, 2012

CHATTANOOGA -- Despite reform, minorities in Tennessee will continue to have less access to health care services and poorer health outcomes in general than other Tennesseans, according to the latest study by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Institute.

The study entitled Health Care Reform: the Impact on Minority Populations in Tennessee looks at the barriers to care for minorities that will persist despite the expanded coverage and services that health care reform promotes.

“What we’ve found through this study is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will most likely have a favorable outcome on access to insurance coverage,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Steven Coulter, president of the institute. “However, it will not necessarily translate to actual access to medical care for several reasons.”

One of the purposes of the PPACA is to reduce or eliminate the disparity in coverage by race that currently exists. However, as the research finds, minority populations in Tennessee tend to be concentrated in geographic areas where health care facilities are already operating at capacity. This increased demand for care will lead to longer wait times at those doctors’ offices accepting new patients. In particular, access to care in the west and east regions will be of greatest concern.

Favorable and unfavorable areas for minority care in Tennessee can be tracked by county, or down to ZIP-code level, through the new Health Care Access Index developed by the Health Institute.

This is the third report issued by the institute, a division of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, designed to provide decision makers a fact-based, intellectual framework for public discussions on health care policy matters. The report is available on the Tennessee Health Institute section of the BlueCross website. To see a short video about the study, click here.

Future research topics and presentations of the Tennessee Health Institute will focus on health care reimbursement variations, risk adjustment, and best-practice answers regarding the health status of Tennesseans.

About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.bcbst.com.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.