Experts discuss health insurance enrollment numbers in Utah

Posted at 10:07 PM, Apr 17, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- President Obama is calling the Affordable Care Act a success, since millions of Americans have signed up for health care on the federal exchanges.

But how many Utahns have signed up and are now covered? FOX 13 News spoke with experts at Arches Health Plan, who said it’s still too soon to call Utah’s enrollment numbers good or bad.

The official report has not come in yet, but based on the estimates so far, Utah’s youth enrollment is above the national percentage.

After a rough roll out of the new health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama was eager to announce the national enrollment numbers Thursday. He said 8 million Americans have enrolled, with 35 percent of those people under the age of 35.

In Utah, no official statewide numbers have been released, but a spokesperson for Arches Health Plan said about 68,000 Utahns have enrolled, with 47 percent in the coveted 35 and younger demographic.

Shaun Greene, Chief Operating Officer with Arches Health Plan said: “We targeted specifically going very young in our marketing, trying to get those young immortals, so I certainly think it's paid off for us. We are a younger state. Average overall this is the youngest state in the country.”

Local stylist Paula J. Dahlberg said she hasn’t had health insurance for 21 years. She enrolled last month and said she sees this as an opportunity.

“There's a lot of things within this health care stuff that I kind of wanted to get checked out, basic things like an allergy test, maybe get my heart checked on, get some blood work done that I probably would have never taken advantage of for another 10 years,” she said.

Greene said local enrollment numbers will likely change depending on the drop rates and actual payments made and said Utah still has a long way to go in terms of getting all of our citizens covered.

“Here's the number that disturbs me, there's still about 300,000 people in the state that are uninsured that are qualified for a very generous tax credit, and we're hoping those folks next year do come back and enroll,” Greene said.

Other factors that will help gauge the success of the Affordable Care Act is how many of the enrollees were previously uninsured, and how many actually make their first month’s premium payments.

Nationally, President Obama said the 8 million who have enrolled beat the initial projections by one million people.