Uninsured In Utah
Both the Salt Lake Tribune (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54787829-78/health-uninsured-percent-u...) and the Deseret News (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865561465/More-Utahns-are-uninsured-d...) covered the recently released annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance statistics about the uninsured in Utah. Excerpts:
Kirsten Stewart-Salt Lake Tribune
Utah’s home-grown health reforms have failed to put a dent in the ranks of the state’s uninsured.
A record 377,700 Utahns — 13.4 percent of the population — went without health coverage in 2011, according to new data from the state Department of Health. That’s up 25 percent from an estimated 301,700 uninsured in 2010.
Massachusetts’ reforms, upon which the federal law was modeled, have "done a good job at enrolling the uninsured," he said, "but they haven’t done a good job at controlling the costs."
At a glance
Other key findings
Even though they’re eligible for Medicaid, 56,500 Utah children are uninsured.
24 percent of young adults, between 19 and 34 years of age, have no health coverage.
26 percent of part-time working adults, and 29 percent of the self-employed, are uninsured.
Source: Utah Department of Health 2011 census of the uninsured
Wendy Leonard-Deseret News
The number of Utah's uninsured continues to grow, despite state and national efforts to improve access to health care.
Of the 377,700 Utahns who went without insurance in 2011, 69,600 are children, according to Utah Department of Health data. Approximately 56,500 of those kids are eligible for the taxpayer-funded Children's Health Insurance Plan but continue to go without coverage.
"It is frustrating to know that there are that many kids who are sitting out there uninsured when they are eligible for a program that would provide them with an important service," said health department spokesman Tom Hudachko.
Lawmakers removed CHIP's enrollment caps during the 2008 Legislature, and the state was making progress on the number of uninsured children until now. Children eligible for the program must live in homes where the income is below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
The new numbers, derived from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, provide little more than a baseline indicator for state health officials moving forward, Hudachko said.
The survey also provides better and more reliable data on a number of other health issues, he said, and that's important when state officials are vying for funding each year.
In addition to a growing number of uninsured children, the population of young adults continues to have the lowest rate of insurance coverage than any other group. Of those ages 19 to 26, 23.6 percent were uninsured in 2011, and 24.1 percent of Utahns in the 27 to 34 age group went without health care benefits, according to the health department data.
In addition to access, cost appears to be is a concern for Utahns, as more than 26 percent of part-time employed individuals claim to be uninsured. About half that are uninsured among full-time employees throughout the state. The rate for self-employed individuals is also high, as nearly 30 percent are without insurance, the data states.
While rates reflect a struggling economy for many of Utahs workers, the numbers can also be a predictor of health status, Hudachko said.
"Having access to health insurance is one of the key determinants of how healthy you're going to be, especially when it comes to having access to preventive care," he said.
It is time that we stopped focusing so much on whether someone has health insurance or not. Health insurance coverage was what both the Massachusetts and federal health 'reforms' recently attempted to improve. Both attempts will fail primarily because health care costs will continue to rise and disrupt the delivery of health care. The United States has seen 50 years of various gerrymandered attempts to improve health care coverage without making any measurable progress. Trying to reform our health system by coming up with new programs for health care coverage is like trying to score a touchdown on penalties, we never get closer than half the distance to the goal line. Because the cost of coverage initiatives always moves the goal line further away than we can reach.
The essence of real health system reform is cost containment. Cost containment will only happen when we attack health system waste. The principle waste in our health system is the private health insurance business model. Therefore, we will only make progress in health system reform when we eliminate the major source of waste, which is health insurance. We should stop measuring performance by how many people have health insurance and start looking for the political will to eliminate it.
Dr. Joe Jarvis