SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — As one of just two states with an existing health insurance exchange, Utah is in a unique position in regard to the nationwide implementation of the federal government's health care overhaul.
Whereas most states are creating or gearing up to roll out exchanges, Utah's program has been up and running since 2009 to allow small businesses to select health care plans in an online marketplace that lists several options and prices, similar to websites that sell airline tickets.
State officials are still deciding if they'll expand the exchange to individuals, as required by the federal plan. Here's a closer look at how the plan works, and what plans lie ahead:
How many people are uninsured in Utah and how many of those are projected to get insurance under the exchange?
— There are an estimated 300,000 uninsured in Utah, about 10 percent of the state's population. State officials say the exchange is designed to get more uninsured covered, but they have no way of knowing how many are, or will be, insured under the exchange. They do know, however, that 73 percent of the small businesses using the exchange previously did not offer health insurance to their employees.
How many people in Utah are currently served by Medicaid and how many more will be served if Utah chooses the Medicaid expansion?
— There are an estimated 225,000-250,000 people on Medicaid in Utah, but Gov. Gary Herbert has said Utah will not administer Medicaid through its exchange. The state is completing a cost-benefit analysis of what it would take for the state to run Medicaid expansion. They plan to use this to make a careful, rational decision but are in no hurry, said Robert Spendlove, the state's deputy chief of staff for federal relations. It will be months, if not years, before a decision is made, he said.
How many small businesses are likely to take advantage of the health insurance offered in the Utah exchange?
— There are 335 small businesses currently using the exchange, covering 8,000 employees and their families, said Patty Connor, director of Utah's health insurance exchange. Utah's exchange has been adding about 20 businesses a month since its 2009 launch, and growth has picked up since the October launch of the first-ever marketing campaign. There are 67,000 small businesses in Utah with 2-50 employees that would qualify for the exchange.