The number of Utahns without health insurance climbed from 10.6 to 13.4 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to new numbers from the Utah Department of Health. That puts the latest figure at more than 377,000 Utahns. Spokesman Tom Hudachko says while the department is concerned about the spike, it’s unsure whether the increase is the result of a new survey method, which tracks cell phone users as well as household landlines.
“We know there are approximately fifty, 60,000 additional individuals who we know counted as being uninsured. But it’s hard for us to tell whether that is a true increase or whether or not those individuals were already out there and were already uninsured and we’re just doing a better job being able to capture and count them now,” he says.
While self-employed Utahns were the highest uninsured group at 29 percent in 2011, Hudachko says even more alarming is the 8 percent or nearly 57,000 Utah children who went uninsured, but could have qualified for the Children’s Health Insurance program or CHIP.
“There are almost 57,000 of them who are living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which makes them eligible for the CHIP program. That is something we would certainly like to work on and like to see more families who are eligible with their children to be on CHIP to get them enrolled so then they can get them the services that they need,” he says.
Young adults between 19 and 34 years old had the lowest rates of insurance coverage among all age groups.