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Enroll-athon helping Utahns get health insurance



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SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 10 percent of Utahns went without health insurance last year, and now, even more are uninsured because of job loss; but the Utah Department of Health is working to change that.

This week is Cover the Uninsured Week, a national effort to get more Americans covered by health insurance. Tuesday there's an enroll-athon to get Utahns insured.

Paula Yazzie works two part time jobs. One of them offers health insurance, but not that she can afford. "I'm looking to see if there's another option for me to get coverage for my kids and still survive on my small paycheck I'm getting now," she said. "It turned out to be $150 every two weeks. Working a part time job, you can't pay your rent or anything with $300 every two weeks, especially if your rent is $625."

She's not unlike the other 300,000 uninsured Utahns.

Nate Checketts, director of Children's Health Insurance Program, said, "A lot of families are struggling right now with loss of jobs, loss of insurance at work, and there's a lot of options out there the state can help pick up that coverage."

That's the reason behind today's enroll-athon. Of the 300,000 Utahns who have no insurance, 76,000 of them are children, and 55,000 of those are likely eligible for CHIP, the state's health insurance program for children.

There's also a program called Primary Care Network, or PCN, that provides preventative health coverage for uninsured adults.

Also, Utah's Premium Partnership for Health Insurance is a program that helps insured Utahns pay their monthly health insurance premiums.

And of course, Medicaid is available to low-income families, children, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly.

"When people don't have health insurance, they often skip the preventative care. That's especially important with children where you need to go in and get the immunizations and well-care visits to stay healthy," Checketts said.

"It's really important that you have insurance, because you never know what can happen from one day to the next," Yazzie said.

The enroll-athon is happening all day at the Sorenson Multi-cultural Center. It will really kick off at 5 p.m. with games for children and plenty of people to answer questions.

More information is available from the Utah Department of Health.

E-mail: corton@ksl.com

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Courtney Orton

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