Uninsured a diverse, constantly changing group - WKRN News 2

Uninsured a diverse, constantly changing group

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Stephen Bertram Stephen Bertram
Dr. John Graves Dr. John Graves
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

The federal government estimates 16 percent of Tennesseans are uninsured.  Many of them will be eligible to buy insurance on the new healthcare exchanges through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Most of the uninsured in Tennessee, 40 percent, are between the ages of 19 to 34.

Stephen Bertram is one of them and may shop for insurance through the new marketplace.

He works in the service industry and was dropped from his employer's insurance plan.  Since then, he has been unable to find comparable coverage.

"When I first got dropped from my company insurance I went out to look independently at my own insurance plan and I was shocked to see that nobody would accept me," explained Bertram, who has allergy problems which he says are considered preexisting conditions.  "Allergies to the environment; things that prohibit me from breathing easily and the other one is food allergies and food that prohibits me from swallowing and it's a very, very costly prescription to take care of it."

If Bertram finds an insurance policy he likes on Tennessee's state insurance exchange, he can't be denied coverage anymore because of his allergies.

Dr. John Graves has been researching the effects of health care reform in the newly created Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt's medical school.

He told News 2, "What's going to be new is in the new insurance exchanges is you'll no longer be asked about your health status. You won't have to tell the insurance company about your preexisting conditions.  They have to accept you if you apply."

According to Dr. Graves, the uninsured is a constantly changing group of people who often have had insurance before through their employer or their spouse's employer.

"We think of 50 million people being uninsured, but it's a constantly changing group of people," he said.

Insurance plans offered through the exchange are also required to cover what's called 10 Essential Benefits.  That includes emergency services, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs and lab services.

Click here to see the full list.

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