71,000 Utah Kids Still Without Health Insurance… Why?

07 March 2019 Written by  

This Legislative Session, we have heard a lot of thoughtful, important discussion around children’s access to health coverage and care, including needed mental health care. Health insurance helps children connect with affordable care, yet thousands of Utah children are not enrolling in coverage. Utah has the highest rate of kids currently eligible for health insurance, but not enrolled.

Following the Session, Voices for Utah Children will be releasing an in-depth “State of Children’s Care” report that reviews kids’ coverage and care across the state. Here’s a preview look at some reasons why Utah kids are still uninsured…

  • Uninsured Parents= kids more likely to be uninsured: Thousands of parents have been left without have health insurance for too long. On April 1st, parents with incomes between 60-100% of the federal poverty level will be able to enroll in Medicaid coverage. After the passage of Proposition 3 and then Senate Bill 96, there is a lot of confusion among parents around what affordable health care options are still available and the new requirements to getting care. It’s important that up-to-date information is provided to families, so that eligible parents can begin enrolling on April 1st. Research shows that covering parents helps kids.  
  • Keeping kids covered after they enroll: Once kids get enrolled, we need to help them stay covered. Kids can lose coverage because of administrative error, a small change in parents’ income or an employer’s failure to return requested information on behalf of the parent.
  • Misinformation and lack of outreach: Many families are confused about what types of affordable options are available to them. Unfortunately, statewide there is a significant lack of outreach funding to help families learn about options and dispel confusion.
  • Fear: The federal administration has contributed to a climate of fear that is causing many immigrant families to not enroll, or dis-enroll, their children from Medicaid or CHIP, for fear of reprisal. The majority of children with immigrant parents are eligible for coverage but are not enrolling. We need to counter this climate of fear, create a welcoming environment for new Americans and fight the misinformation of using public benefits.
  • Coverage disparities: Utah has one of the highest rates of uninsured Latino/Hispanic children. Alongside fighting the climate of fear for immigrant families, we must also continue to outreach to communities and support families who may not enroll alone.

Unfortunately, as we reported last year, the rate of uninsured Utah children is trending in the wrong direction. For the first time in almost ten years, we saw a troubling rise in the number of uninsured children in our state. Voices for Utah Children is currently working to increase coverage and care for all children with our 100% Kids Coverage Campaign. Let’s work together to help all Utah kids get the coverage and care they need to be healthy and thrive.

JessieJessie Mandle, Senior Health Policy Analyst, joined the organization in 2015. Prior to joining Voices for Utah Children, Jessie was a Senior Program Planner with the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, where she focused on nutrition and Out of School Time areas. Jessie also worked as a policy researcher in Johannesburg, South Africa and oversaw a CDC grant for Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services in Portland, Oregon. Most recently, she worked with the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Cancer Action Network. Jessie has a Master's degree in Public Heath from Portland State University and a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.