Is the Utah Health Exchange Working for Small Business Health Insurance in Utah?

Is the Utah health exchange working? Lets look at some numbers.

Utah has a population of 2.8 million, of which 1.1 million have full-time jobs, of which about 200,000 work in firms of less than twenty employees and 540,000 work in firms of less than 500 employees. The Utah Health Exchange defines small businesses as those with up to 50 employees. So, let’s say about 300,000 Utahans work for such businesses. The exchange covers 1,424 of them. Yep, that’s not a high percentage of usage by the target market the exchange was created for. Too small in fact.

A forbes online blog takes exception to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board’s assertions, the Utah Health Exchange’s results so far are not “mixed”. They are basically non-existent. If a venture capitalist had funded the Utah Health Exchange, it would certainly be shuttered on its first anniversary.

The guy who started HSA’s has this to say about The Utah Health Exchange, which launched in August 2009, with 136 businesses enrolling their employees. However, only 13 groups remained enrolled by December 2009. The reason for the initial failure was a classic death spiral of anti-selection. Because carriers had greater underwriting latitude outside the exchange than inside it, firms with sicker employees gravitated to the exchange and those with healthier employees stayed out.

Perhaps right-wing Republicans will stop using the Utah exchange as a successful example of a non-Obamacare exchange in light of these numbers.

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