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Get to Know the Health Care Safety Net

 
Tennessee's Health Care Safety Net supports care for uninsured adults in Tennessee, including community health center patients, 30% of whom lack health insurance. 
 
Read on to learn more about the Health Care Safety Net.
 
What is the Health Care Safety Net? 
The Health Care Safety Net was first established in 2006 to provide primary care services, dental services, and specialty care coordination to uninsured adults in Tennessee.1 The Uninsured Adult Health Care Safety Net is administered by the Tennessee Department of Health and relies on a variety of providers, including community health centers, also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), community and faith-based clinics, Project Access entities, and dental services to deliver care.2
 
What are the different provider types in the Health Care Safety Net? 
Community health centers, designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and community and faith-based clinics both provide care to underserved population in Tennessee, including those without health insurance. Community health centers are designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and subject to certain federal standards. Community health centers provide comprehensive primary care services to all patients, regardless of insurance status and ability to pay for care using a sliding fee scale based on income. Community and faith-based clinics provide a variety of free or reduced cost health care services to patients.3 

Project Access entities provide care coordination services for specialty care.4 Local health departments also care for uninsured adults but are funded from the Department of Health's operating budget rather than the Health Care Safety Net.5  
 
Who are Health Care Safety Net Patients? 
The Health Care Safety Net providers services for uninsured adults, ages 19-64, 41% of whom are between 40-54 years of age.6 Twenty-nice percent are between 19-29 years old and 30% are between 55-64 years old.7 Most patients, 57% are female and 42% are male.8 Patients are also primarily white. Fifty-three percent of patients are white, 21% are Hispanic, and 14% are Black.9

Health Care Safety Net patients served by community health centers and community and faith-based clinics often experience certain health risk factors and chronic conditions. These patients have higher rates of tobacco use and diabetes than Tennessee's population.10 
 
How does the Health Care Safety Net Support Community Health Center Patients?  
The Health Care Safety Net is fundamental component to caring for underserved Tennesseans and helps to partially offset the cost of providing care to uninsured patients at community health centers. An estimated 10% of Tennesseans were uninsured in 2021.11 Of the 417,000 patients served by community health centers in Tennessee, 69.2% have incomes below the Federal Poverty Level and 30% are uninsured.12  

In FY21, the Health Care Safety Net supported 326,000 patient visits for more than 162,000 patients in addition to 42,000 patient visits for dental care for nearly 25,000 patients.13 During this time, community health centers provided more than 240,600 visits and cared for more than 110,000 patients.14
 
 
 
[1] Tennessee Department of Health. (2022).2021 Uninsured Adult Healthcare Safety Net Annual Report. Retrieved from https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/program-areas/reports_and_publications/SN-Report-FY21.pdf
[2] Ibid.
[3] TCCN. (2022). Retrieved from http://www.tccnetwork.org/
[4] Tennessee Department of Health. (2022). 2021 Uninsured Adult Healthcare Safety Net Annual Report. Retrieved from https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/program-areas/reports_and_publications/SN-Report-FY21.pdf
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Tennessee Health Center Program Uniform Data System (UDS) Data. (2022). Retrieved from https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/data-reporting/program-data/state/TN
[13] Tennessee Department of Health. (2022).2021 Uninsured Adult Healthcare Safety Net Annual Report. Retrieved from https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/program-areas/reports_and_publications/SN-Report-FY21.pdf
[14] Ibid.
 
 
 

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