Indigent services increasing in Salt Lake County

This article from the Salt Lake Tribune brings up the subject that indigent deaths paid for by the county has been increasing quite drastically in the past year.  The article points out the over 20% increase in year over year numbers has happened fast. . . going from about four deaths per week earlier this year to five deaths per week and now on a run rate of six per week over the past three months.

Nicholas Rupp, a spokesman for the Salt Lake County health department is quoted, “Whether it’s economic factors that have increased from last year or if we have more population in Salt Lake County this year than last that have no known next of kin, we can’t say yet.”

According to the article the county picks up a tab of $550 per person that fits the program profile for payment.  Those people served by the program either have no resources to pay for their funerals or have no family to help dispose of the remains.

With the county allotment of $550 the deceased is almost always required to be cremated.  Salt Lake County contracts with Wiscombe Memorial, a Salt Lake City funeral home, to provide the service.

The economic ramification to the county is that they budgeted $100,ooo for the 2019 year, but last week voted to allocate another $40,000 to the program to get through the rest of the year.

Funeral Director Daily take:  The good news in this article is that Salt Lake County has a solid plan to deal with this issue.  And, even a dollar number of $140,000 is a manageable number for the county to pay.

Two things that strike me about this particular situation is 1) How fast the numbers of people in this category seem to be rising for the county and 2) the relative low cost per case that the county incurs.  I don’t know where the numbers will go as to how many, however, I don’t believe that the county will continue to receive bids at $550 per case for a long period of time if that dollar amounts represents removal, legal paperwork, cremation, and returning the cremated remains to a family member in the case that there is survivors.

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