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Health insurance premium program wants enrollees

Health insurance premium program wants enrollees



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A program that helps families pay for their employer-sponsored health insurance plan premiums is hoping to get more people to sign up.

The Utah Premium Partnership for Health Insurance had only 215 adults in the program as of Oct. 1. The program can enroll up to 1,000 adults and an unlimited number of children.

The program provides a monthly voucher of up to $150 for each adult and up to $120 per child in an enrolled family. Enrollment in the program is open to employees who are not already participating in employer-sponsored insurance plans whose premiums cost more than 5 percent of the person's income.

A January survey conducted for the state health department found that 88 percent of 305 respondents did not know about the two-year-old program.

"There is a low understanding of and knowledge of the program," said Kolbi Young, a spokeswoman for the health department.

Other states with premium assistance programs have also seen low enrollment, according to a report released earlier this year from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Programs in Illinois and Oregon, for example, have less than 10 percent of eligible children enrolled.

The Kaiser report suggests that the limited availability of employer-sponsored health plans and the high costs of those plans are factors in participation rates.

Young said state officials want to increase enrollment in the Utah program and that a retooling of the marketing plan is expected this year.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services also is considering whether to let Utah make changes to expand the program, including allowing people to use the program vouchers to pay for individual insurance plans.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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