Nearly 11% of Utah residents uninsured

About 10.7% or 298,200 Utah residents did not have health insurance in 2008, compared with 10.6% in 2007, according to the annual Utah Healthcare Access Survey, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The report found that an additional 11,000 state residents were uninsured in 2008 compared with 2007.

In addition, the report found that the number of uninsured Utah children declined by more than 13% to 76,000 children. State health officials attribute the decline to easier enrollment in CHIP. CHIP enrollment at the end of 2008 totaled more than 37,000 children, compared with about 25,000 children in July 2007. David Sundwall, executive director of the Utah Department of Health, said the state has an "ambitious" goal of enrolling 50,000 children in the program. State health officials estimate 55,000 of the state's uninsured children meet income eligibility requirements for CHIP or other state programs.

The report also found:

  • 37% of the state's Hispanic population was uninsured;
  • The number of uninsured adults between ages 19 and 64 increased by 12.3% in 2008; and
  • 78% of the state's insured residents had coverage through a current or former employer or union, compared with 79.5% in 2007.

According to the Tribune, health advocates believe the report underestimates the number of uninsured because the study includes responses only from people with landline telephones, which is not as effective in reaching low-income families and young adults who use only cell phones. Utah Health Policy Project Executive Director Judi Hilman said that based on national data, the state's uninsured rate likely is closer to 15%.

Hilman said, "We're headed in the right direction but if you look down at the detail, we are much less impressed. ... We're not doing a very good job with the poorest of the poor." She added that the state needs to continue efforts to adopt best practices to maintain and attract state residents to Utah's public insurance programs (Mccann, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/23).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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