Utah Governor Frames Plan For Easier Access To Affordable Health Insurance
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has revealed a plan to help more residents of his state gain access to affordable health insurance. Central to the plan is the setting up of a statewide facilitator, much like the Commonwealth Connector in Massachusetts. The Governor’s plan for affordable healthcare also mandates medical coverage in another parallel to the Massachusetts Health Insurance Mandate.
The proposed legislation calls for the creation of The Utah Health Insurance Exchange. The purpose of the Exchanges would be to approve of the low-cost health insurance plans provided by participating insurance companies, and to help Utah residents comply with the mandate and enroll in healthcare insurance plans that fit their needs. The Exchange would also be responsible for collecting payments and for paying approved insurance companies.
The exchange is intended to be a non-profit organization that would facilitate compliance with the state mandate and oversee the program the way the SEC does the buying and selling of stocks. A spokesperson with the Governors office said the exchange would also be responsible for leveling the playing field and help spread risk among participating healthcare insurance providers who meet the criteria to participate in the program.
Employers would benefit, as the exchange would provide a simple process for the acquisition of low cost health insurance for their employees. The legwork in finding affordable group heath insurance options for employees, and all of the administration of the health coverage would be provided by the exchange. It will eliminate a lot of hassles for businesses in the state, especially small businesses. Currently it is estimated that a little over 100,000 Utahn’s without health insurance work for a company with fewer than 50 employees. If these uninsured workers each have two dependents, this group represents 400,000 uninsured residents, many of them children.
Under the proposed plan residents will have several health insurance options and healthcare plans to choose from. The Exchange will help them obtain information on costs and provide coverage comparisons. The idea is also to have employees pay their share for the medical coverage using pre-taxed withholdings. Health coverage obtained through the program will be designed to be flexible and portable, allowing people to take coverage with them when they change jobs.