This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Only 357 Utahns signed up for insurance on healthcare.gov last October, the first month the website opened for business. Thousands more seeking insurance were derailed by online errors and long waits. You couldn't buy Obamacare insurance even if you wanted to.
Fast forward to the end of March and Utah's enrollment total reached 84,601.
How did it happen?
First, healthcare.gov got a major overhaul in December. Second, many Utahns got free help from trained enrollment experts, including the navigator program created to support underserved communities.
One of those navigator teams was Take Care Utah (TCU), a state-wide consumer assistance network organized by the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP), United Way of Salt Lake 2-1-1 and the Association for Utah Community Health (AUCH).
By answering basic questions, speaking to community groups, and arranging one-on-one appointments, TCU's navigators helped tens of thousands of Utahns understand and access their new insurance options.
They helped people like Amanda, whose brain tumor had made her uninsurable.
And Denise, a working, single mom who wanted to stay healthy for her daughter.
And Jeff, who just launched his own business.
Sometimes it took days to troubleshoot tricky applications and sign people up. But TCU's hard work and success is reflected in Utah's final enrollment total, and the many steps that made it possible.
Randal Serr and Jason Stevenson are directors at the Utah Health Policy Project. Josh Marans is a coordinator at the Association for Utah Community Health.