How qualifying Utahns can get free or discounted Marketplace health insurance

Utah may be known for many good things, but having excellent healthcare coverage isn’t one of them.

Last year, the Deseret News reported that more than half of all Utahns find healthcare difficult to afford. A report compiled by Altarum Healthcare Value Hub offered proof that the state is struggling.

“Utah has relatively low health care spending per person, but ranks among the worst in the nation for the percentage of residents reporting affordability problems,” read the report.

Regardless of financial status, no family should have to worry about getting the care they need. If you’re among those struggling to afford health insurance, a statewide program may be able to help.

The best part? It may cost you nothing at all.

The Health Insurance Premium Support program

The Health Insurance Premium Support (HIPS) program offers low-cost to free health insurance for eligible individuals. If you meet the eligibility requirements, HIPS pays all or part of your monthly health insurance premium. Once you’re enrolled in HIPS, a check is sent to your health insurance company each month covering all or part of your premium. Those who qualify pay no more than $20 per month for health coverage.

Although some hospitals offer financial assistance, individuals may still be caught with high out-of-pocket expenses. Health coverage through the HIPS program provides access to preventive care and services such as physical therapy and medication coverage – not just emergency care.

“While uninsured patients can receive affordable primary care at a Community Health Center, they are often left facing a huge financial burden in the wake of a major illness, emergency, or other specialty care not offered by a Health Center,” Alan Pruhs, executive director of AUCH, said of the program.

“HIPS helps eliminate or reduce health-insurance premium costs for working poor individuals and families, meaning they can have peace of mind in the case of a medical emergency.”

If you meet the requirements, you can sign up at your local community health center. An enrollment specialist will walk you through the process and sign you up for free. (To find enrollment assistance near you, click here.)

Who is eligible for HIPS?

The HIPS program provides financial assistance to eligible individuals who enroll in a qualified health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The program is geared toward low-income individuals and families whose financial situation makes it difficult to get health insurance coverage.

To help you know if you qualify, here are the eligibility requirements for the HIPS program:

  • You must be a Utah resident.
  • You must have a qualifying income. (Your income must be below a certain threshold per month or per year, with guidelines set according to household sizes.)
  • You must be eligible to enroll in a qualified health plan on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • If selected, you must choose a Silver Plan from the Marketplace.

Get immediate coverage through the Special Enrollment Period

Once you apply for the program, you might be wondering how quickly your coverage kicks in. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for open enrollment season. Thanks to the government’s current Special Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Marketplace health coverage now through Aug. 15.

Special Enrollment Periods also apply after certain life events, such as losing health coverage, moving, getting married, or having a baby.

What other services do community health centers offer if you don’t qualify for HIPS?

Even if you don’t qualify for the HIPS program, community health centers are a great resource if you need healthcare assistance. For over 50 years, health centers have provided comprehensive and preventive primary healthcare to all — regardless of your insurance status.

If you aren’t eligible for HIPS or Marketplace coverage, an enrollment specialist can help you with other insurance options you may be eligible for.

To learn more about the services provided by community health centers, click here.

Find enrollment assistance near you and get covered today!

If you still have questions, you can speak to a community health center enrollment specialist for free help enrolling in a health plan through the Marketplace and to complete a HIPS application. They will help you find the best health insurance options available to you and your family.

For free assistance, go online or visit auch.org/enrollment-assistance today to learn more.

Association for Utah Community Health

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