Health Care the “Utah Way”

Pete CodellaNews

MarketWatch at the Wall Street Journal once called Utah the “brightest star” on the American flag. It turns out Utah is one of the brightest stars when it comes to health care too—the state rises above the rest in rankings for both resident healthiness and overall low health costs.

At the monthly board meeting of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Arches Health Plan, an approved health insurance partner of Avenue H, along with the University of Utah Health Network reported on the success of Utah’s health initiatives and results.

During the presentation, University of Utah Hospital CEO David Entwistle noted that during the recession, Congress was acutely focused on the health care market in the United States and the Affordable Care Act. In consequence of this focus, Denis A. Cortese, then CEO of the Mayo Clinic was called to testify before the U.S. Congress and was questioned as to why the U.S. wasn’t following the popular European and Canadian health care models. To these questions, he responded:

“I suggest that it is time to stop talking about the Canadian solution, or the Swiss solution or the French solution, and start talking about the Utah solution.”

The “Utah solution” has gained national awareness. The state is widely-recognized for its innovative thinking around health care, with projects like the creation of Avenue H, Utah’s health insurance marketplace for small business.

Entwistle presented a scattergram (pictured below), which shows Utah in the far top right corner. This represents its top five rankings for resident health and low medical costs. Utah continues to dominate multiple rankings for health care value. In addition, the University of Utah Health Care has frequently ranked in the top 10 in the nation for quality, shouldered against the likes of the Mayo Clinic, NYU Medical Center and more.

Utah continues to adapt after the Affordable Care Act. One recent development is the creation of Arches Health Plan, a consumer operated and oriented non-profit aimed at providing great selection and competitive rates.

Linn Baker, former director of the Public Employee’s Health Plan and now CEO of Arches Health Plan reviewed the ACA and the Arches Health Insurance model for the board. He also briefly presented Utah’s nearly unique all-payer claims database, which has helped contribute to maintaining lower cost services in Utah by increasing the transparency of the cost of medical procedures.

“The economy has a direct impact on health care cost, availability and quality,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED. “Utah has been known for coming out on top in business through national economic ups and downs. It’s easy to see that our tradition of excellence carries over to the state’s health care value.”