Intermountain collaborates with UHPP to provide health access assisters

Intermountain Healthcare is collaborating with the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP) to lower the uninsured rate in Utah with health access assisters. Health access assisters find vulnerable and underserved populations to help them with health insurance coverage and understanding the complex processes, like applying for insurance, both before and after enrollment. 

 

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Slonaker said as this program grew, Intermountain started to notice UHPP’s efforts and wanted to provide monetary support to this program. 

“Intermountain’s collaboration represents what I hope could be a game-changer in reducing Utah’s uninsured rate.”

In 2019, 8.6% of Utahns were uninsured in the state, which is slightly below the national average. Currently around the nation, medical debt is the biggest cause for bankruptcy. In response, UHPP started an initiative in 2013 called Take Care Utah that focuses on enrolling as many people as possible, free of charge. 

Matt Slonaker, executive director for UHPP, said Take Care Utah has health access assisters in community clinics, schools, prisons, Planned Parenthood and other places to meet the needs of uninsured populations locally. 

“This mission-driven workforce is skilled at working with our most vulnerable neighbors to explain complicated programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and Marketplace Insurance. They pride themselves on meeting clients where they are, whether at a clinic, a school, a jail or prison.”

UHPP does paid media marketing, maintains their Take Care Utah website and relies on word of mouth to spread knowledge.

Health access assisters aim to best represent the populations they serve. UHPP hires assisters who speak the same language and understand the same cultural practices as those they are trying to reach. Slonaker said:

“We have people on staff that represent the diversity that exists in Utah and specifically, the diversity that exists among vulnerable and underserved Utahns, those who we are really trying to prioritize.”

Slonaker said closing the uninsured gap requires a mix of direct service and policy change at the legislative level. UHPP is working with the legislature to further expand Medicaid coverage. 

“We’re not just adding more health access assisters out into the field, we are also working on policy change, we are working on institutional systems change. You can add 100 or 200 health access assistants, but unless you change some policies, they won’t be able to reduce the rate as far as we want them to.”