August 20, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah launched a health insurance Web site Wednesday intended to foster competition and reduce consumer costs by giving workers more choices of where they can buy their insurance plans. In the Utah Health Exchange, employers can deposit money into workers’ health savings accounts instead of paying part of their premium, so employees can buy any plan they want and employers don’t have to choose and administer employee health plans. The program, found at http://exchange.utah.gov, does not offer a government-run health insurance plan. In a legislative health panel Wednesday, conservative state lawmakers and think tanks decried federal proposals for a government-run health plan saying it would jeopardize existing care and that it is unnecessary for government to help those without insurance.
“Health care is not a right, but rather, health care is one of many human needs best addressed as a market good. For those not served by the commercial marketplace, authentic charity care can fill that void,” Stan Rasmussen, public affairs manager for the conservative Sutherland Institute, told lawmakers.
State estimates show that about 300,000 Utah residents, or nearly 11 percent of the population, are uninsured.
The launch of the Utah exchange and debate over federal proposals came as a report released Wednesday said Utah health insurance premiums have increased more than four times faster than the median wage.
The report by Washington, D.C.-based Families USA, a nonpartisan consumer health organization, found that since 2000, family health insurance premiums have risen by 98.7 percent, while median earnings rose by 22.8 percent.
The report says the employer’s portion of annual premiums this decade rose 97.4 percent from $4,861 to $9,594. For family health coverage, the report says worker’s portion of annual premiums rose from $1,444 to $2,931, or 103 percent.
House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, said it’s clear that health insurance reform is needed, but states should be allowed to do it on their own.
“Those solutions ought to be as diverse as all 50 states. Massachusetts should not be required to have a Utah solution for their problems,” Clark said. “The incubators in each one of the states give us an opportunity to find solutions that are workable.”
The Utah exchange, which Clark took a lead role in developing, is starting by enrolling small employer groups with two to 50 workers. The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, FirstWest Benefits Solutions and Klein Cabinets were the first employers to enroll in the program Wednesday.
“In the state of Utah we really are at an advantage,” said Lane Beattie, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce CEO. “Here I am representing business, thanking government — I am thanking government — for their willingness to step forward to make a difference because they’re the ones that can. They didn’t come in and dictate up front what had to happen, they partnered.”
In November the workers will be able to log on to the site and pick the plan they like best. Coverage will start Jan. 1.
The defined-contribution option will be available to large employer groups in late 2011.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
To find out more about the Utah Health Insurance Exchange click here
Hundreds of thousands of Utahns search the Internet weekly looking for competitive insurance quotes. Regardless if it’s health insurance, auto, homeowners or life insurance, the Internet has become the “go to” joint to gather information. You folks already know this point, but bet you didn’t expect the bombardment of calls and emails after you entered in your semi private date like name, address and phone number. How do you avoid this? Well, I will tell ya!
When you get that little letter from your Utah health insurance company informing you that in 30 days they will whack your premiums up 30% I’m sure at first light you do some sort of Google Search for insurance. Millions and millions of results show up here in the great state of Utah. You start clicking, find some site that you can understand and plug all your personal data in. Right? But it’s what happens next that chaps the rear off Utah health insurance consumers. You can no more than close out the web page and the phone starts ringing. People from “boiler rooms” located all over the country and probably none located in your state or area start hammering the dog out of you. One right after the other… for 2 weeks. Then that private email box that you have protected from spam for years starts getting email form every online pharmacy and weight loss program in the world. And the health insurance community does it’s fair share of peppering you with email for months.
OK, Why? First off when requesting a quote online from “lead generating” sites the info is sold to about 7 agents. It never fails that one of those ”agents” is another lead generation site and the info is resold to about 10 more agents. Sorry Utahns, that’s just the way it works. And I feel the same as you, it stinks to high heaven. Now, how do we avoid this mess?
Do this, before entering in any information to get a quote look the Utah health insurance site over. Look to see if they are local or located here in Utah, if not, or you can’t figure it out then they are not local they are probably a lead generator. If the free health insurance quote in Utah site does not appear to be an agency site by listing the agent or brokers name and address then again, it’s a lead generator and the calls will never stop. Also, the site should be very, very specific about things. Lead generators will most often be vague and you can’t figure out who or what you are dealing with.
Sites like Crystal Pacific Insurance, which is owned and operated by me, have zero incentive to farm out your information. We are the agent or broker. We don’t want to compete against our self by selling the info. Also, most times sites that offer Utah health insurance quotes and that are controlled by brokers for their own business growth are from local agents, like me.
Another point is that when visiting an agent or broker controlled website rates will be generated on the spot, immediately for you to review, without being bugged to death. Lead generator sites most times withhold this information and the “boiler room” agents attempt to hammer a policy down your throat.
So, next time you are looking for Utah health insurance quotes please be careful and before entering any data into the request form make sure they are a local, independent Utah health insurance agent.
To be sure you are dealing with a local Utah health insurance broker that will NEVER sell the information off to some shady dude, you should get your free Utah family health insurance quote today!