Health Care Scorecard: Utah Among Worst for Access and Affordability

May 1, 2014

A new report shows Utah ranks among the worst states in the nation for access and affordability to health care. The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC, released its Scorecard on State Health System Performance this week.

The report measured states’ performance on health care access, quality, costs, and outcomes from 2007 to 2012. Senior scientist and co-author David Radley says the healthcare offered in Utah is high quality, but many in the state can’t use it. 

“For many measures of health outcomes, Utah is really near the top of the country, but Utah is among the worst in the country when it comes to access and affordability,” Radley says.

About 20 percent of Utah adults were uninsured in 2012. That’s up from 15 percent uninsured in 2007. The percentage of adults who went without care because of cost has also increased. And Utah is the worst in the country for out-of-pocket medical costs.

The report does not include any changes made because of the Affordable Care Act. Since then, more than 84,000 Utahns have signed up for private insurance on the federal marketplace. Radley says Utah could make some significant improvements depending on the decisions state leaders make.

“This is an opportunity right now with all of those new resources that have become available through the Affordable Care Act, to really turn the tide and help vulnerable access the high quality care that we know exists in your state,” Radley says.  

“The numbers are black and white. It is time to expand Medicaid,” said the state’s new Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon in statement responding to the report. Governor Gary Herbert has said he’s in negotiations with the federal government to use Medicaid dollars to help low income Utahns buy insurance on the private market.