Feds Want More Utahns to Sign up for Health Insurance
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell wants Utahns to sign up for health insurance if they haven’t done so yet. On average, insurance companies in Utah are raising premium rates 10 to 20 percent in the coming year, and three insurers have dropped out of the marketplace entirely, but Burwell insists Utahns should be able to find affordable coverage.
“In the state of Utah, over 65 percent of folks receive financial assistance. And for those people, where there is a premium increase, they also get an increase in their financial assistance,” Burwell says. “So it’s very important to shop and make sure they can take advantage of that.” She says seven out of ten consumers can find a plan for 75 dollars or less in monthly premiums with tax assistance.
As of December 5th, 2.8 million Americans had selected a plan on healthcare.gov, including more than 53,000 Utahns. Greater Salt Lake City is one of 20 communities taking part in a federal challenge to see how many uninsured they can get enrolled. The winning city gets a visit from President Obama. Valerie Jarrett is senior advisor to the President. She says Salt Lake is currently number 10.
“We are very encouraged by the mayor’s efforts and all the partners that he has who are working with him in Salt Lake City to ensure that everyone in that market has insurance,” Jarrett says. She says it’s a challenge to get young people enrolled, a demographic that Utah has more of than any other state.
Open enrollment ends January 31st, but those who want coverage on the first of the year must have started the enrollment process by December 15th. Penalties for those who don’t have insurance are rising steeply next year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average household penalty in 2016 will be $969.