Add this to holiday wish-lists of hundreds of thousands of uninsured Utahns: health coverage.
The Obama administration has hired a private firm to patch its problem-plagued insurance shopping portal www.healthcare.gov and says repairs could take through the end of November. That leaves consumers two weeks, or until Dec. 15, to secure a plan that kicks in on January 1.
Utah’s two exchanges
Utah is unique among the states. Its marketplace for individuals and families is run by federal health officials, and is found at www.healthcare.gov.
The state operates another exchange, Avenue H, exclusively for Utah small business owners who opt to use it and their employees. Learn more here.
At a glance: Help with enrolling
Online chat at healthcare.gov
Toll-free call center at 1-800-318-2596
Go to www.takecareutah.org or call 211 to find the nearest trained navigator
Find a certified insurance broker near you at bit.ly/brokerfind
Try this calculator to find out if you might qualify for a subsidy: http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/
Federal officials, however, are delaying enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s Jan. 1 insurance requirement by six weeks. People will avoid tax penalties as long as they are covered by the end of March.
The site is considered the key path for Americans to comparison shop for the plans available in their states and, if they qualify, access federal subsidies or publicly funded programs such as Medicaid. Beginning in 2014, nearly everyone must have health insurance or face a tax penalty.
For Utahns who need help finding coverage, it’s available by phone, on the Internet and in person around the state.
Among the options: three Utah groups selected by federal health officials to serve as "navigators," which help the public use the online marketplaces.
The three — the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP), Utah AIDS Foundation and the National Council of Urban Indian Health — have received grants from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Dial 2-1-1 » UHPP, a nonprofit advocacy group, sought a navigator grant with two partners, the Association for Utah Community Health and the United Way’s 2-1-1 community help line.
The grant supports a network of nearly 50 community nonprofits that are assisting Utah’s underserved populations, including ethnic and cultural groups, the disabled and the poor, according to Randal Serr, director of UHPP’s Take Care Utah program.
"We are looking forward to helping more Utahns find health insurance that fits their budget," Serr said. "We have partnered with some fantastic organizations that enjoy the high level of trust in their communities to get the job done."
You can visit www.takecareutah.org to find a navigator near you.
Other navigators will be based at the Utah AIDS Foundation and the Urban Indian Health Center in Salt Lake City.
The foundation estimates about 20 percent of Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and their families will need direct help from navigators. A major focus of the foundation’s outreach is Utahns living with HIV-AIDS and the LGBT Latino community.
Help in the community » Utah’s 11 community health centers, which dot the state from Logan to St. George, are sharing $1.3 million in grants to help residents enroll in health insurance.
The grants will support additional staff, and the new employees will work one-on-one with clients to help them find coverage, said Jennifer Lloyd, deputy director of the Association for Utah Community Health.
Here’s where the Wasatch Front centers are located: Community Health Centers, Inc., which has locations in Midvale, Salt Lake City and its Rose Park neighborhood and Taylorsville; Wasatch Homeless Health Care, Salt Lake City; Mountainlands Community Health Center in Provo.
These centers have additional sites around the state. Find all the locations, contact information and more at www.auch.org.
Call for help » Call center operators can answer questions on a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-318-2596.Next Page >
By the numbers
2011 » 301,700
2012 » 377,700
2013 » 376,600, 13.2 percent of the population
2010 » 380,921
2011 » 411,926
2012 » 411,000, 14.4 percent of the population
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey; Utah Department of Health
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.