Undocumented children in Utah now qualify for state-funded medical benefits
Undocumented children in Utah now qualify for medical benefits under a new, state-funded health insurance plan.
Details: The 2023 law that established State CHIP is designed to provide health and dental coverage for eligible children and teens under age 19 who are in low-income, working households and don't qualify for other health insurance or Medicaid due to their citizenship status.
- Enrollment opened on Jan. 1, and the state Department of Workforce Services will handle applications.
The big picture: Utah's move to offer medical benefits to undocumented children comes as California became the first state in the nation to expand coverage to undocumented immigrants of all age groups.
- Immigration advocates say the COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the importance of preventative health care for undocumented immigrants, who were disproportionately impacted by the disease's health tolls.
- The bill's sponsor state Sen. Luz Escamilla, a Salt Lake City Democrat, previously said funding the program would be more cost-effective than the state covering emergency hospital visits.
What they're saying: "Access to care or coverage should not be determined by where a child is born," Thaiss Del Rio, a health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, told Axios.
- "We are just really excited to know that more children in our state will have access … for the very first time so that they can stay healthy, they can go to the doctor's [office], get their vaccines and be able to perform better in school."
The intrigue: The bill to fund insurance coverage for undocumented minors garnered considerable support last year from the Republican-controlled state Legislature.
By the numbers: The program, which costs $4.5 million per year, is expected to help up to 2,000 children.
- The program has a sunset date of July 2028.
In 2021, undocumented immigrants in Utah accounted for less than 3% of the state population, according to the Pew Research Center.
- Currently, about 6,500 undocumented children living in Utah would qualify for the program, according to Del Rio.
- A family of four making a maximum of $60,000 per year would meet the income restrictions to be eligible.
What we're watching: Del Rio said there's some "potential" that the state Legislature could expand health care coverage to immigrants in other age groups in the future.
More Salt Lake City stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.