(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today released new data estimating that 377,700 Utahns, or 13.4 percent of the total population, went without health insurance in 2011. The figure represents an increase from the 2010 overall uninsured rate when the UDOH estimated 301,700 people, or 10.6 percent of the population, were uninsured.
The increased rate is at least in part due to the use of improved survey methods that provided a better estimate of the number of uninsured than did previous surveys. The change in methods means it can’t be known for sure whether there has also been an actual increase in the number of uninsured Utahns since 2011.
Prior to 2011, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey that measures key public health indicators, was conducted with Utahns who own landline telephones. In 2011, the survey methodology was changed to also include Utahns who use only cell phones. The survey also began utilizing an updated methodology to weight the data in order for it to more accurately represent Utah’s population.
Both of these methodology changes account for the increasing number of Utah households without landline phones, while also addressing an under-representation of males, adults with less formal education or lower household income, and racial and ethnic minorities.
Key findings from the new data include:
• 56,500 children ages 0-18 years were uninsured and living below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), making them eligible for Utah’s CHIP program.
• 7.9 percent of Utah children ages 0-17 years (69,600) were without health insurance coverage in 2011.
• Younger adults ages 19-26 years and 27-34 years had the lowest rates of insurance coverage in 2011 than any other age group.
• Among adults ages 19-64 years who were employed full time, 13.2 percent were uninsured in 2011, while 26.3 percent of adults who were employed only part time went without health care coverage.
• Among self-employed Utahns, 29.1 percent reported being uninsured in 2011.
“It’s particularly discouraging to see 56,500 Utah children went without health care coverage last year when the state’s CHIP program could have helped them,” said UDOH Executive Director David Patton. “My goal is to help Utahns become the healthiest people in the nation, and addressing the rate of uninsured Utahns is an important part of achieving that goal.”
The BRFSS is a household health survey overseen by the CDC and conducted by individual state health departments. Additional data on the estimated number of uninsured Utahns broken down by demographic characteristics can be found at http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/2011brfss/Highlights_2011.pdf.