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New Program Offers Health Insurance Premium Assistance

A program designed to help low-income families afford their health insurance premiums may help narrow the “coverage gap” in Utah. Alan Pruhs, executive director of the Association for Utah Community Health, said the association started the program after noticing that many patients were struggling to afford federal marketplace plans even with the subsidies offered to low-income families.

The Association for Utah Community Health, which oversees 52 clinics across the state, partnered with the Intermountain Community Care Foundation to provide financial assistance to an initial 158 individuals at three community health centers. Now they hope to expand assistance to more than 1,100 households statewide.

Administered by the Association for Utah Community Health and supported by the Intermountain Community Care Foundation, the program currently offers financial assistance to 820 households, or about 1,350 people.

To qualify, a patient must earn between 100 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, be eligible to enroll in a health plan on the federal marketplace and be uninsured. Once accepted, enrollment specialists work with the patients to help them obtain and understand their insurance.

Intermountain Healthcare already provides a substantial amount of financial assistance indirectly through the emergency room. But that's not good health care. To really achieve health or maintain health or restore health, you need a primary care physician who can look out for your well-being — not just when you need an emergency.

Health insurance reinforces that.

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