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Medical Assistance Programs in Tennessee

Many people struggle to obtain the healthcare they need due to cost. In an effort to cut down on the amount of people that are uninsured in the state, various medical assistance programs were created to offer little to no cost health insurance for struggling families in Tennessee. Medical assistance programs will provide services like checkups, hospital stays, coverage for serious injuries and even mental health care. In many instances, if it were not for medical assistance programs, many low-income families would not be able to receive quality healthcare. While many of the medical programs in Tennessee are federally funded, several are also state funded. In order to qualify for medical assistance programs, a household must be below a set federal poverty line for its size and income. Additional medical assistance program requirements look at a household’s residency. The following is a brief listing of the various medical assistance programs available to residents in Tennessee.

ACA Plans and Subsidies

In compliance with federal guidelines, Tennessee offers health insurance to all citizens through a federally run health care exchange. Applicants are asked a series of questions and based upon the answers and data inputted, the applicant’s eligibility for a subsidy is determined. In Tennessee, nearly 52 percent of those uninsured (not including the elderly) are considered eligible for some form of subsidized health care. That is approximately one out of three residents.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

SHIP is dedicated to providing counseling for no cost. This counseling is objective and designed to help mediate between beneficiaries and their Medicare insurance plans to make sure that beneficiaries understand what they are entitled to. SHIP will provide answers to any questions about health insurance or Medicare programs. SHIP can also help provide information about Medicare savings plans if a beneficiary is having issues paying for his or her insurance plan.

Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP)

Both Medicaid and CHIP are equipped to provide healthcare for approved children that belong to low-income households. Some services that are included in these programs are routine checkups, dental care and immunizations just to name a few. The Medicaid program will cover children up to 21 years of age, pregnant women, caretakers of a minor, the elderly and people who receive an SSI check. Depending on who is applying, the income requirements for Medicaid will differ based on available assets, income and household size.

CHIP is available to children 18 years and under, or pregnant women who are deemed eligible. All applicants must be residents of the state of Tennessee, cannot be enrolled in TennCare, and must be below the federal poverty level by 250 percent. Additional requirements for children are that all applicants be under 19 years of age on the date of the application, and are considered legal citizens or residents. Women who are applying do not have to provide immigration documents if they are pregnant while applying, and if a woman is enrolled in a medical plan that does not have maternity benefits, she may still apply for CHIP.


TennCare is one of the largest Medical Assistance Programs available and is one of the oldest Medicaid managed programs. TennCare primarily provides health coverage to low-income pregnant women, elderly, children and those who are disabled. The main objective of TennCare is to provide managed care that is organized, efficient and will also avoid emergency room visits or long hospital stays. Some of the services provided are behavioral, medical, dental, prescription drugs and other long-term benefits. There are three main plans available from TennCare: AmeriGroup, BlueCare and TennCare Select. Residents who are covered by this plan must be under the age of 21.

Tennessee Frontier Health

Frontier Health is a program that advocates for behavioral and substance abuse healthcare. This program aims to provide assistance to anyone of any age and also attempts to inform the public about the stigma of mental health. Frontier Health is also a safe haven for any and all that are suffering from abuse of various forms.

Health Assist Program

In many instances, there are a lot of people who are not able to be insured through TennCare or Medicare. The Health Assist Program aims to help people, who are not insured by other health insurance programs. However, it should be understood that this program is not health insurance. Health Assist is available for 10 counties in TN. Health Assist can provide help for the uninsured by finding a physician or primary care doctor, finding free or low cost medications, screening for TennCare and providing information about the ACA. Health Assist can provide help for insured parties by helping with needs often not covered through insurance such as vision, dental, pregnancy and prescriptions. If an applicant is on Medicaid, Health Assist can answer questions about the program, receive referrals for part D plans, obtain access to insurance counseling and get medications.

Homeless Health Care Center

The Homeless Health Care Center aims to provide health care to individuals who are between residencies at the time and cannot afford traditional services. The center is located at a stationary clinic in the Chattanooga area and it provides basic health care services.


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