U Will Expand Health Care Options In Insurance Marketplace | KUER 90.1

U Will Expand Health Care Options In Insurance Marketplace

Aug 17, 2017

University of Utah Health Plans announced this week they’ll expand marketplace insurance under the Affordable Care Act in 2018. They’ll go from covering about half the counties in Utah to the whole state.

Just two weeks after Molina Healthcare announced they will leave Utah’s insurance marketplace next year, the University of Utah Health Plans officials unveiled their plan to expand coverage state-wide.

Chad Westover is the CEO of the University of Utah Health Plans.

"The individual exchange is drawing more enrollees and it’s a growing segment. So we want to be everywhere where those enrollees are," Westover says. 

Westover says the national individual insurance exchange is getting closer to being profitable which will lead to stability for companies like his. But there’s still uncertainty about whether the Trump administration will keep giving money to insurers that reduces rates for low-income people. That means rates will go up next year.

"They will increase. I’m not at liberty to say and we haven’t decided yet exactly the number," he says. "Hopefully those increases for most people will be buffered by some of the subsidies that exist." 

Jason Stevenson is with the Utah Health Policy Project. He says while there is a lot of attention on insurers leaving states, others have expanded.

"You do have what we call geographical expansion, which means that the insurers who are making money and doing well are expanding within more counties and more areas within their states," Stevenson says. 

When Molina leaves the ACA in Utah next year, approximately 70,500 people will lose their health plans according to the Utah Insurance Department. Between Select Health and now the University of Utah Health Plans, they’ll have two other options.