New Report Finds Healthy Utah Plan Would Help Working Parents & Families

17 February 2015 Published in Press Release Archive

Majority of Eligible Parents are Working

HealthyUtahParentsJobsSalt Lake City–Working parents would receive significant help with health insurance costs if Utah moves forward with Governor Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan or a similar plan, according to a new report released today by Voices for Utah Children and the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF). More than one in three projected enrollees in Healthy Utah are parents. The report found that more than two-thirds (68%) of the low-income uninsured parents that could benefit from the Healthy Utah plan are working and only 8% are unemployed. The remaining 25% include homemakers, students and retired persons.

“People often assume that if you have a job, you have health insurance, but that isn’t the case for many of Utah’s working families,” said Lincoln Nehring of Utah Voices for Children. Eligible parents include cooks, waitresses, cashiers and carpenters who have no access to affordable health coverage.

Without a plan like Healthy Utah, parents in a family of three whose income is above $750 per month earn too much to qualify for any Medicaid coverage in Utah.  Unfortunately, these families also earn too little to qualify for insurance assistance through the new Marketplace at Healthcare.gov. This creates a gap in coverage for thousands of low-income, working Utah families.

“Covering parents is good for kids,” said Nehring.  “When parents don’t have to worry about unpaid medical bills piling up, they can take better care of their own health, become more financially secure and devote more time to making sure their children are getting the care they need to succeed.”

Other alternatives proposed by the Utah Legislature, such as plans that would cover only the medically frail, would leave out the majority of parents who would have been eligible for health insurance under the Healthy Utah plan or traditional Medicaid expansion.

“Governor Herbert has negotiated a homegrown Utah plan to bring taxpayer dollars back into the state for Utah’s working families,” said Lincoln Nehring of Voices for Utah Children.  “If our legislature fails to pass Healthy Utah, the money earmarked for our state will simply go to other states. Utah’s federal tax dollars should benefit Utahns.”

According to the report, states that extend coverage to parents also reduce the number of uninsured children. Utah ranks 43rd among all states and the District of Columbia for children’s health insurance coverage and only one state is worse than Utah at enrolling eligible children.

“One in ten Utah children are uninsured and many of them are eligible for public coverage but are not yet enrolled,” said Joan Alker, executive director of CCF. “Research shows that covering parents increases the likelihood of children being enrolled in health coverage.  So creating Healthy Utah or a similar plan could have the additional benefit of helping Utah’s children get the coverage they need to succeed.” 

For more information, see the complete report:

Utah Parents and Families would Benefit from Medicaid Expansion: http://www.utahchildren.org/images/pdfs/2015/HealthyUtahParents.pdf

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Learn More and Contact Lawmakers: http://bit.ly/HealthyUtah