Skeptics have doubts about universal health care model for Utah

Feb 28, 2024, 6:00 AM | Updated: 1:47 pm

A nurse works in the laboratory room in El Nuevo San Juan Health Center at the Bronx borough in New...

FILE: A nurse works in the laboratory room in El Nuevo San Juan Health Center at the Bronx borough in New York, Jan. 11, 2024. An MIT researcher says Utahns have high rates of employer-sponsored health insurance. Still, there are concerns about affordability. (Eduardo Munoz /Associated Press)

(Eduardo Munoz /Associated Press)

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to correctly identify the name of a researcher. We regret the error.

SALT LAKE CITY — The health care coverage system in Utah could be a two-level medical insurance system with free and automatic basic coverage and paid supplementary coverage.

That’s according to MIT researcher Amy Finkelstein who presented information about Utah health care at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Summers pointed out that Utahns have high rates of employer-sponsored health insurance, still, there are concerns about affordability.

“When you start to dig a little bit deeper into specific populations, you definitely start to see where some of those health disparities are,” Summers said.

Affordability and politics in Utah health care

An estimated 70% of Utahns had at least one health care-affordability issue during the past year,  including going without health care or skipping prescriptions.

Tom Merrill of Redstone Health care listened to the presentation, which touted universal health care that’s similar to the Medicaid model. 

He’s skeptical it could be accepted, saying politics get in the way of essential medical care for all regardless of resources.

“Clearly, a better operational approach. But to talk too much about it without the political component is just not reality,” he said.

Universal health care makes sense, say advocates

Universal health care is common sense for Utahns, according to a growing group of advocates in Utah. Dr. Joe Jarvis hopes to bring a ballot initiative to the voters in the coming years.

Jarvis agreed with the presenter who said health care coverage should be automatic and free. And that people could pay extra for supplemental services.

But he said opponents aren’t interested in changing because of the high profits they earn from the current system.

“I think most Americans understand that there’s something wrong with health care the way we’re doing business now. So there’s this gnawing insecurity of ‘will it be there for me,'” Jarvis said.

Related: Veterans can soon sign up for the largest-ever expansion of VA health benefits

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Skeptics have doubts about universal health care model for Utah