A minimum of at least $3 million would be needed to establish a state insurance plan for Utahns who don't qualify for policies issued by private companies because of health problems, Gov. Norm Bangerter has been told.
State insurance officials met with Bangerter Wednesday to detail the findings of a committee formed by the 1990 Legislature to determine how to provide health insurance to the state's uninsurable residentsThey left without a commitment from the governor that money for an uninsurable risk pool would be included in his budget, although state Insurance Commissioner Harold Yancey said Bangerter "is in favor of the concept."
"You probably are going to take care of these folks one way or the other," Yancey said, citing welfare and other government-funded assistance programs as often the only other places uninsurable Utahns have to turn to for help.
There are an estimated 6,000 residents who cannot obtain health insurance. They suffer from a wide variety of medical conditions, including diabetes and heart and kidney diseases.
Some can't get insurance because the companies they work for are too small to absorb the additional costs associated with their ailments. Some couldn't get insurance no matter where they worked.
"Most are actually working. Many times we think of them as sick people who can't take care of themselves. That's not the case," said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Randy Smart.
He said the uninsurable are often confused with the uninsured. Thousands of Utahns do not have health insurance because they can't afford it, not because they can't qualify for it.
Even with a state-funded insurance program, the otherwise uninsurable would still pay premiums. The cost of their insurance would likely be about 150 percent of what the average Utahn pays for similar coverage, Smart said.
Twenty-two states have state-funded insurance programs. Many of the other states' programs were created just in the past few years, Smart said.