Utah's Plan Is A Failure
That is, according to the Salt Lake Tribune (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/54805964-82/utah-care-health-percen...).
Utah is sometimes held up as a model, because the Beehive State has adopted an insurance exchange, the type of vehicle Republicans say is better than a national plan.
But statistics now show Utah’s percentage of residents who are uninsured is higher than ever at 13.4 percent, or 377,700 Utahns who are without coverage. And for some groups, the rate is even higher: 24 percent of young adults between age 19 and 34, 26 percent of adults with part-time jobs and 29 percent of those who are self-employed. Utahns earning less than $14,867 a year are four times more likely to be uninsured.
One serious accident or illness and these people and their families could become bankrupt, homeless or worse. Medical costs are so high that, without insurance, care is out of reach for many people. And health insurance is also unaffordable.
Utah’s plan is a failure. It has done almost nothing to bring down the cost of health insurance for those whose employers do not provide it. Competition among private insurers on the state exchange was supposed to bring down premiums. It has not.
Utah is also remiss in making health care available for our children. Some 56,500 children in Utah are eligible for coverage under federal Medicaid, but they are not enrolled. That is inexcusable. And state leaders say they may not expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, even though the federal government would pay 93 percent of the initial cost of the expansion.
There is much which is inexcusable in Utah's approach to health system reform. It was entirely predictable (and we did predict it) that the Utah Health Exchange would fail to bring down health care costs and therefore fail to increase coverage. Utah's health reform strategy can be held up as a national model of what not to do. It is ludicrous for our elected leadership to continue to tout this legislation as any achievement at all. Something very similar happened here in the 1990s when the Leavitt administration passed 10 different health reform bills, none of which accomplished anything and all of which were allowed to disappear from the radar screen as quietly as possible. Leavitt's HealthPrint, like the current nonsense, was organized as a 'market-oriented' strategy, which indicates from the outset that the proposal is not serious health system reform.
Unfortunately, the Tribune goes on to argue that the Affordable Care Act has a better chance of improving our health system than does the Utah Health Exchange. Having a better chance than no chance seems like a low standard for judging the potential success of a health reform strategy. But, the Tribune should consider that the health exchange concept is central to the success of the Affordable Care Act. That should be a clue that there will not be any possibility of improvement under the Affordable Care Act. Surely we can recognize that the private, for-profit health insurance business model is a failure and that any government policy which relies on that business model must likewise fail?
Dr. Joe Jarvis