New Report: Utah Has One of the Lowest Rates of Health Coverage for Children in the Nation

Voices Utah Children LogoA report released Wednesday shows that while most of the nation experienced significant gains in children’s health insurance coverage between 2013 and 2014, Utah stagnated. Approximately 85,000 Utah children were uninsured in 2014; the same number as in 2013.

The report by Voices for Utah Children and Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families found that between 2013 and 2014, the uninsured percentage rate for Utah children remained relatively stagnant, declining from 9.5 to 9.4 percent. In contrast, the uninsured rate for children in the United States declined significantly from 7.1 percent in 2013 to 6.0 percent in 2014.
The report attributes the improvement in children’s health insurance coverage elsewhere to the fact that major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. States that expanded Medicaid coverage to more uninsured adults through the ACA saw nearly double the rate of decline in uninsured children as compared to states that didn’t accept the ACA’s Medicaid option, such as Utah.

“If Utah had accepted Medicaid expansion dollars, the state wouldn’t have fallen so far behind,” said Jessie Mandle of Voices for Utah Children. “Many children live in homes with parents who can’t afford coverage for themselves. When parents receive health insurance coverage, their children are more likely to be insured too. By accepting Medicaid expansion dollars, Utah can help more parents and children stay healthy and get the care they need.”

Utah now ranks #47 for the percent of uninsured children, compared to #43 in 2013. Utah children are among the least likely to have health insurance in the nation.

Even more alarming, Utah ranks #51—worst in the nation—for insuring children with family incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. At least 15.4% of Utah’s most vulnerable children, those under 200% of poverty, do not have health insurance coverage.

“Offering Medicaid coverage to more uninsured parents will help reduce the number of uninsured children in Utah,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “Children thrive when their parents are healthy and economically secure so improvements in health coverage for parents benefits the whole family.”

Though Utah has not yet accepted funding to expand Medicaid, many uninsured children may already be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). At least 22% of Utah children who are eligible for CHIP and Medicaid are not enrolled.

“We encourage parents to find out if their children are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid,” said Mandle.

Parents can call 211 or visit to find out more about children’s health insurance options.

For more information, see the complete report:
Children’s Health Insurance Rates in 2014: ACA Results in Significant Improvements: