This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
For the first time in more than a year, low-income Utah parents who do not qualify for Medicaid can apply for health insurance through the state, beginning Saturday.
The open spots in the Primary Care Network program are intended for uninsured, legal residents with children who do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.
In November 2010, PCN stopped accepting applications. This open enrollment period will last until Dec. 23.
Applicants must have children under age 19 at home and the family must meet income guidelines. A family of four can make no more than $33,525 annually. Benefits range from doctor visits and prescriptions to birth control and dentist appointments.
Anyone who is eligible will be accepted during this enrollment period. There is no cap on numbers.
An annual state study estimates that 300,000 Utahns lack insurance. Of that total, approximately 141,000 are adults meeting PCN income guidelines. However, not all of them are parents.
Opening the health insurance program to parents exclusively is not unprecedented.
PCN is funded with Medicaid dollars and must stay within certain funding parameters due to federal rules. Utah is federally required to have a higher percentage of parents than adults without dependent children, said Kolbi Young, spokeswoman for PCN.
"We know that for this open enrollment it would not work for us to open for all adults at this time based on our current numbers," she said.
With their youth and healthier lifestyle, parents are considered to be typically cheaper to insure than other groups, said Judi Hilman, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project, an advocacy group.
"So if it looks and smells like cherry picking, it sort of is," she said. "That's by virtue of the federal policy ... this is why we're grateful for comprehensive health care reform."
Parents must be between 19 and 64 and without access to student insurance or veterans' benefits.
Apply for PCN health insurance
P Go to http://www.health.utah.gov/pcn or call 888-222-2542.