Film Highlights Utah’s Health Coverage Gap

Jun 3, 2014

A film debuting Tuesday in Salt Lake City highlights Utah’s low income citizens who don’t have access to affordable health insurance.  The new documentary tells the stories of Utah adults who fall within the state's coverage gap, earning too little to buy subsidized insurance on healthcare.gov, but too much to receive Medicaid.

The short documentary produced by local filmmaker Paul Gibbs is called “Entitled to Life.” The debut screening at Broadway Centre Cinema is organized by community healthcare organizations. Medicaid Policy Analyst RyLee Curtis is with Utah Health Policy Project. She says the film should answer people’s questions about those under the poverty line who can’t get health coverage in Utah.

“We know that there are 57,000 Utahns in the gap, but who are they? Are they working? Why are they in the coverage gap? I think that this film really serves that purpose,” Curtis says. “You get to see the faces, hear the stories, and really understand who’s in the coverage gap.”

Curtis says the screening tonight is intended to be a jumping off point for discussion. They will be touring the state with stops planned along the Wasatch Front, St. George and Logan.  She says she hopes the film builds support for Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to fill the coverage gap, and puts pressure on lawmakers to hold a special legislative session to discuss that plan. 

“I think it needs to happen,” Curtis says. “There are Utah lives on the line. I just hope that this community campaign keeps the drumbeat going and really shows the need for closing Utah’s coverage gap.”

Curtis says the state’s Primary Care Network, which opened for enrollment this week, provides a temporary bridge for some Utahns in the coverage gap, but does not meet a lot of health care needs. The program is limited to basic preventative care, and doesn’t include catastrophic coverage or specialty care. Curtis says there are about 7,000 slots, so it only covers a portion of the population that is in need of care.