Thursday, October 30, 2014

Your Utah Your Future. Gov Herbert's new initiative for planning for Utah's future.

Utah is growing. By the year 2050, the population will nearly double in size. This is nothing new. Utah has a history of growth, and a successful track record of planning for the future.

That ethic of stewardship to future generations is as critical as ever.  Governor Herbert has launched the Your Utah Your Future initiative to ensure we address growth issues in a way that enhances what we value most about Utah and ensures the best quality of life for our children and grandchildren.  We have partnered with Envision Utah to reach out to all Utahns in this process.  

Now we need your help to make sure Utah not only retains but enhances its great quality of life today and tomorrow

I ask that you participate in the 2014 Your Utah Your Future project by visiting You can begin by playing the Build Your 2050 Utah game where you’ll be able to make choices about Utah’s future and watch them come to life. Afterward, you’ll have a chance to invite those in your social networks to do the same.  Your voice matters. Share how you think Utah should grow.

The goal is to have 50,000 participants join the process and share their voice so Utah can stay a great place to live for decades to come. As state employees, we have a responsibility to engage and lead by example.  I encourage you to be a part of this process. 

Justin Harding, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor, State of Utah

Did you buy health insurance on the Marketplace last time? Here's what you need to do.

There were 84,601 Utahns who signed up for new health insurance on during the first open enrollment period in 2014. That means lots of Utahns have questions about how to renew or switch their insurance for 2015. They might also be wondering how their premium subsidies(defined) might change. 

Any Utahn with health insurance purchased from should take 30 minutes to follow the steps outlined in this article. If you don’t, you could end up paying too much for health insurance, or keeping a plan that doesn't work for you anymore. 

Utah Health Policy Project (Utah's largest navigator grant recipient) recommends that you schedule a “tune up” for your ACA insurance before the December 15th deadline to finalize your insurance for 2015.

In fact, we recommend you do it well before December 15th because everyone and their grandmother will be logging into in mid-December. Trust us. You don’t want to be there. 

If you’re unsure how to proceed, or the prospect of going to makes you want to binge-watch Toddlers & Tiaras, we’ve got you covered. 

Contact the trained enrollment experts at Take Care Utah (TCU, to schedule a one-on-one ‘tune-up’ for your health insurance options. TCU has more than 60 “navigators” and “certified application counselors” standing by to provide free, in-person advice and answers. If you don’t have Internet access, you can find the nearest TCU assistor by calling 2-1-1. 1. 

But if you want to “tune up” your own insurance policy, start by following the three “R” words listed below: Review, Renew, and Re-determine. 

Review: Log into and update your personal information, income projections, and plan choices. Make sure your current health plan is still your best option. Remember: Even if you keep the same plan, your level of premium subsidies could be different in 2015 (see below) 
Renew: Re-enroll in the same health insurance, or switch to a new plan that suits you better. If yo

Redetermine: Authorize and the IRS (yes, that IRS) to re-calculate and approve your premium subsidies (also called advanced premium tax credits or APTCs) and cost-sharing assistance. Note: is sending notices via postal mail to currently-enrolled consumers to inform them of the redetermination process. 

Shifts in Premium Subsidies 
Keep in mind that your premium subsidies, the financial assistance that reduces your monthly insurance premiums, could change even if your income, family size, and insurance plan remain the same in 2015. 

How can that happen? 

Although all six Utah insurance companies that sold plans on last year’s marketplace are returning for 2015, many of their plans have changed. And more importantly, the benchmark plans (ie. the second-lowest Silver Plan in each geographic area) used to calculate premium subsidies have changed for every geography in Utah (link, “#5. Health Insurance Plan Rates-2015”) 

This means that even if your insurance plan, income, and family size remain the same in 2015, the amount of your premium could change based on shifts elsewhere in the marketplace.

For more explanation on how benchmark plans influence subsidies, check out this easy-to-read article, and this detailed study

About Take Care Utah 
Call 2-1-1 

Lessons for open enrollment this year

Report from the First Year of Navigator Technical Assistance Project


Observations from the first year of the ACA's open enrollment period are highlighted in this report, as well as lessons for navigators as the November 15 open enrollment period approaches.

The Issue:
The next open enrollment period will bring new challenges to this already complicated enrollment process. An estimated 5 million more people will enroll in coverage in the open enrollment period that begins November 15, 2014.
The first open enrollment period was challenging for assisters and consumers. Changing rules, balky websites, and consumers’ unfamiliarity with key provisions of the ACA all contributed to a difficult first year. But consumer assistance helped make it more successful than experts predicted it would be, resulting in a significant decline in the uninsured after the first year of enrollment into marketplace coverage. Marketplaces have an opportunity to build upon that success and strengthen and extend consumer assistance to help people understand their plan options and enroll in coverage.
Navigator recommendations for year two open enrollment include:
  • How to make the process more seamless and consumer-friendly;
  • Improved tools to help assist potential enrollees; and
  • How navigators can effectively tap insurance agents and brokers, as well as tax preparers to help enroll the uninsured.

UDOH seeking your input about infants, children and women in Utah

The Utah Department of Health is soliciting your views about the health needs and concerns of infants, children and women in Utah. Your input is crucial and will help us determine statewide prioritized health issues and develop plans to address them. Please click the link below.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Get ready to enroll in Marketplace coverage

Starting November 15th, you’ll be able to apply and enroll in 2015 Marketplace coverage. If you’re eligible, the Health Insurance Marketplace can help you find affordable health coverage. Most people who apply qualify for premium tax credits and other savings based on their income.

If you already have 2014 Marketplace coverage, you’ll be receiving important information abouthow to keep your coverage for 2015.

Here are some things you can do now to get ready for November 15th:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In-Store Calorie Signage Results in Teens Purchasing Fewer Sugary Beverages

Gantz_NC_062613-1989_RTA new study released last week in the American Journal of Public Healthreveals adolescents who saw printed signs with easy-to-understand calorie information about sugar-sweetened beverages—including the amount of exercise required to burn off the calories in these beverages or the numbers of teaspoons of sugar in these beverages—were more likely to purchase a drink with fewer calories. Researchers also found that the purchasing behavior persisted for six weeks after the signs came down. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Health Insurance Marketplace: 10 Things to Tell Your Patients

If you are a provider, here are 10 things you can tell your patients about the Health Insurance Marketplace
  1. If you don’t already have health coverage, the Health Insurance Marketplace is a way to find and buy health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs.
  2. Open Enrollment starts November 15, 2014, and ends February 15, 2015. Plans and prices will be available then. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2015.
  3. Not only can you view and compare health coverage options online, but with one simple application, you can have those options tailored to your personal situation and find out if you might be eligible, based on your income, for help paying for coverage.
  4. The same application will let you find out if you and your household members might qualify for free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  5. The information is all available online, but you can apply 4 ways: online at, by phone, by mail, or in-person with the help of a trained assister or navigator.
  6. Each health plan will generally offer comprehensive coverage, including a core set of essential health benefits like doctor visits,preventive care, maternity care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and more.
  7. No matter where you live, there will be a Marketplace in your state, offering plans from private companies where you’ll be able to compare your health coverage options based on price, benefits, quality, and other features important to you before you make a choice.
  8. Health insurance companies selling plans through the Marketplace can’t deny you coverage or charge you more due to pre-existing health conditions, and they can’t charge women and men different premiums based on their sex.
  9. Each state will have a Marketplace, run either by the state, through a state-federal partnership, or by the federal government.
  10. For more information, visit Or, call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.

Tools to Integrate Equity into Community Health Needs Assessments

A banner with all four partner logos.
This webinar will expand upon the conversation by highlighting two analytical resources for conducting Community Health Needs Assessments with a health equity lens: the America’s Health Rankings’ ‘Health Disparity Tool’ and NNPHI’s ‘Community Commons.’ America’s Health Rankings ‘Health Disparity Tool’ can be used to identify priorities and target populations experiencing disparate healthoutcomes.  The ‘Community Commons’ tool is an interactive mapping, networking, and learning tool which provides free access to geographic information systems (GIS) data for topic areas across the domains of the Social Determinants of Health such as the built environment, food systems, and local economy.  

Join us for the Webinar and Learn More!

DATE: October 23, 2014
TIME: 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
Onyemaechi Nweke, DrPH, MPH, NPA Lead, Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Thomas Tenorio, Board Chair and Acting Chief Executive Officer, Community Action Partnership

Presenting on America’s Health Rankings: Tom Eckstein, MBA, Principal, Arundel Street Consulting 
Presenting on Community Commons: Monte Roulier, Co-Founder & President, Community Initiatives; Stacy Wegler, MS, Senior Associate, Community Initiatives

Register Here:1

The National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA) is a coordinated, multi-sector effort to tackle health disparities in the United States. Health disparities represent a significant societal and economic burden, not only for the individuals and communities affected, but also for the country as a whole. The NPA promotes cross-cutting, multi-level, and systems-oriented approaches to eliminate healthdisparities.   
Created in 2001 as a forum for public health institutes, today the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) convenes its members and partners at the local, state, and national levels in efforts to address critical health issues.  Dedicated to the vision of improving publichealth through innovation, NNPHI is the national membership network committed to helping public health institutes promote and sustain improved health and wellness for all.
The Association for State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is the national nonprofit organization representing public health agencies in the United States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia, and over 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO's primary function is to track, evaluate, and advise members on the impact and formation of public or private health policy which may affect them and to provide them with guidance and technical assistance on improving the nation's health.
Community Action Partnership (the Partnership) serves over 1,000 Community Action Agencies across the nation that are working to change people’s lives, embody the spirit of hope, improve communities, and make America a better place to live. The Partnership cares about the entire community and is dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Medicare Open Enrollment begins today

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the start of the Medicare Open Enrollment, which begins today, October 15th and ends December 7th. CMS encourages people with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage options for 2015. 

For 2015, steadily increasing quality of plans should give seniors confidence that they have an array of quality choices at competitive prices. Quality in Medicare Advantage and the Part D Prescription Drug Program continues to improve. About 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are currently enrolled in plans with four or more stars for 2015, in contrast to an estimated 17 percent in 2009. And Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to be at an all-time high in 2015 with more than 16 million beneficiaries. 

CMS calculates star ratings from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best) based on quality and performance for Medicare health and drug plans to help beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers compare plans. CMS is allowing 5-star Medicare health and prescription drug plans to enroll beneficiaries at any time during the year. 

“It’s important that seniors should take this time to review their plans to make sure they are the best choice for their situation. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors and people with disabilities are benefiting from improved quality in Medicare health and drug plans at competitive prices,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “With this improved quality, Medicare health and drug plan enrollees will receive improved care and coverage in a timely manner.” 

CMS announced last month that the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium for 2015 is projected to be $33.90.  Earlier this year, CMS estimated that the average basic Medicare prescription drug premium plan in 2015 was projected to be $32 per month. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will increase to 42 percent to an all-time high of over 16 million and Medicare Advantage premiums will have decreased by 6 percent. The law is also closing the Medicare Part D “donut” hole, with more than 8.3 million people saving over $12 billion on prescription drugs through July 2014.  

Medicare plans coverage options and costs can change each year, and Medicare beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and choices, and select the plan that best meets their needs. If people with Medicare are satisfied with their current coverage and feel it will meet their needs for 2015, they to do not need to do anything. 

For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2015 Medicare health and drug plans, and view state-by-state fact sheets, please visit:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New From Coverage to Care materials are available in Spanish

From Coverage to Care (C2C) is an initiative from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) designed to help people with new health coverage understand their benefits and connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them. C2C resources in Spanish are now available to download and print.  
Available resources include:

  • A Roadmap to Better Care and a Healthier You (Una Guía para Un Mejor Cuidado y Una Vida Más Saludable) that includes 8 steps to explain what health coverage is, and how to use it to get needed care
  • Consumer tools including a sample insurance card and a sample explanation of benefits
  • An 11-part video series that helps explain the information covered in the Roadmap  

To download, print, and order these resources in Spanish, please visit

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Trends shows widening disparities in diet quality between rich and poor

Americans are eating more whole fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and polyunsaturated fats than they did in 1999, and they’re drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, according to a new HSPH study. The most significant change? 

Lower trans fat consumption, which suggests that collective actions, such as legislation and taxation, are more effective in supporting people’s healthy choices than actions that depend solely on individual, voluntary behavior change. 

On the other hand, the study found that people are not eating more vegetables or less red and/or processed meat. And their salt intake increased. The results also showed that people with higher socioeconomic status had healthier diets than people with lower socioeconomic status and that gap has increased. Read more
Harvard  School of Public Health

Marketplace 101 Webinars: Learn the basics about buying health insurance on

Millions of Americans now have health insurance through the Marketplace. But there are still many more who may not have enrolled only because the Marketplace system seems complicated and hard to understand.

In order to raise awareness and understanding of how the Marketplace works, the Denver Regional Office of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is offering 3 identical Marketplace 101 webinars for people who need a basic understanding, so they can be more confident in using and enrolling in coverage through the Marketplace. Assisters, healthcare providers, advocacy groups, and individuals are all welcome to participate.

Some of the topics in these “Marketplace 101” webinars include:
•           What is the Marketplace and how does it work
•           What do plans cover, and what the differences are among plan choices
•           Who DOESN’T need to enroll in a Marketplace plan
•           How small businesses can enroll their employees, and even get a tax credit for doing so
•           Who is eligible to enroll, and the valid time periods for doing so
•           How the enrollment process works, and where to get help if needed
•           Premium tax credits to reduce the cost of insurance and cost sharing reductions to lower the cost of care
•           Medicaid eligibility
•           Marketplace and Medicare
•           Marketplace resources
•           Q & A

We are offering 3 opportunities for you to participate and view the webinar.

To register, please click on the link of the webinar you would like to attend.  All will feature the same Marketplace 101 presentation with time for Q & A.

•           October 9, 2014, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm MDT
•           October 23, 2014, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm MDT
•           November 6, 2014, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm MDT

Please note, the presentation for each session will be identical.  We hope you will join one.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Health Insurance Marketplace will have 25 percent more issuers in 2015

HHS released a report that shows consumers will have more choices as they shop for coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015. There will be a 25 percent net increase in the number of issuers offering Marketplace coverage.  In total, 77 new issuers will offer coverage on the Marketplace.This increase is important because previous estimates have found a connection between greater competition and lower costs. In other words, it suggests that the Marketplace is working to increase competition, provide consumers with more opportunity to pick the plan that best meets their needs, and ultimately lower costs for consumers.