Insurance coverage

Utah Ranked Last Among Medicaid Expansion States for Public Health Insurance Coverage for Low-Income Children in 2021 – State of Reform

Recent data from the US Census Bureau American Community Survey show that 84% of low-income children who qualified for Medicaid in 2021 in Utah were not enrolled. That’s the highest rate nationwide among the 36 states that have expanded Medicaid. It’s also higher than Wyoming, which is a flat state with tougher income restrictions.

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Utah also had the 3rd highest rate of uninsured children from low-income families at 15% or 42,000 children.

“Utah has one of the highest rates of children eligible for coverage but not enrolled in the United States,” said Emily Zheutlin, health policy analyst at Utah Health Policy Project.

“Unfortunately, this has been true for many years, even before the pandemic. Much more needs to be done to defend these children and it is time for the Utah Legislature to act. The 2023 session will be crucial to achieving 100% Covered Children in Utah Numerous studies show that health care coverage for children not only improves children’s health, but also promotes better academic achievement, overall well-being, and many other lifelong benefits. life long.

Meanwhile, Utah has the highest rate (77.8%) of private insurance among expanding states with insurance premiums well below the national average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Utah unemployment rate (2.7%) was well below the national average. The comprehensive health insurance premium per member per month in Utah was also lower than the national average at $386 in 2020, according to the state’s latest report. health insurance market report. The Census Bureau attributed Utah’s high rate of employer-sponsored coverage to strong economic conditions.

Since January 2022, Enrolling in Medicaid in Utah increased by 114,199 registrants, of which 31,025 registered adults are parents.

The higher enrollment is due in large part to continued coverage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which prohibits state Medicaid agencies from de-enrolling beneficiaries during the public health emergency (PHE).

President Biden recently declared the end to the pandemic and his administration signaled that PHE aid would remain in place until January 2023.

Voices for Utah Children, a local non-profit organization advocating health coverage for all children in the state, called on Utah’s Medicaid program to adopt a 12-month continuous coverage policy.

“Utah’s rankings for children’s insurance underscore why it’s so important that we enact state policies to ensure that all children have consistent health coverage,” the organization said in a statement. communicated.

“We have been monitoring the steady decline and low coverage rates for years. We need to adopt policies that ensure all children in Utah have access to CHIP and Medicaid, and that we adopt continuous 12-month coverage. These policies can help us reduce Utah’s high rate of uninsured people and prevent further coverage losses and interruptions when the public health emergency ends. We can take these proactive steps to get Utah’s children’s coverage back on track, so that all Utah children can get the coverage and care they need to thrive.

The organization called on the state to conduct better outreach and enrollment assistance programs so that families can better access coverage that meets their specific needs.

Among the children expected to lose Medicaid coverage nationwide once PHE provisions end, the Urban Institute estimates 57% would be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance program and an additional 9% would be eligible for Marketplace coverage with tax credits.

One-third of people at risk of losing Medicaid coverage after PHE ends could be eligible for other sources of subsidized private health coverage in the markets in the form of premium tax credits that may be made available families if the enhanced tax credits in the American Rescue Plan Act are made permanent.

The institute cited the need for good coordination between the Marketplace and the Medicaid agency in each state to reduce unnecessary loss of health coverage at the end of PHE.