Number of Uninsured in Utah on the Rise - Especially Among Children

Individual or Family Health
Group Health Coverage

Utah Children Health Insurance

According to recent statistics released by The Utah Department of Health, growth in the number of uninsured in Utah is slowing, but children in the state are increasingly likely to be without health insurance. The numbers released showed almost an increase of 20,000 more children without medical coverage from 2005 to 2006, many of them in families making below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The amount of adults without health insurance actually dropped slightly.

State health insurance officials are pleased that overall the number of Utah's citizens without health insurance is slowing, but are reluctant to point out why the numbers of uninsured children are growing. But most residents and consumer advocates feel it is because enrollment in CHIP, the federally funded Children's Health Insurance Plan, has been closed since September due to lack of funding. CHIP is a program where children in families that do not qualify for Medicaid because they earn too much, but cannot otherwise pay for private health insurance, receive benefits. The programs vary from State-to-State. In most states families can make up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and still qualify for CHIP benefits. But unfortunately Utah, like many other states that have also seen an increase in kids without access to low cost medical insurance had to suspend new enrolment in the program since September, when federal funding for the program ended. There are currently several proposals before congress that not only are intended to renew CHIP funding but to actually make it easier for more families to qualify.

Meanwhile the Utah Legislation has managed to reapportion some 4 million dollars that will go into CHIP that will allow at least another 12,000 children to gain access to the low cost medical insurance starting in July.

About 1 in three Utah workers need to purchase private health insurance. The legislature is currently working on a proposal that will help small businesses and private individuals do so through incentives and tax breaks. Complete details on the plan are expected to be hammered out and presented during the 2008 legislative session.