PHOENIX — Phoenix and the surrounding communities that make up Maricopa County have one
of the highest rates of uninsured people in the country, according to a study
conducted for The Associated Press.
The study shows that half of uninsured people live in 116 of the nation’s 3,143
counties. Maricopa County _ Arizona’s most populous _ comes in at No. 6 on the
list representing 1 percent of the nation’s uninsured. Within Maricopa County,
20 percent, or more than 656,000 people, are uninsured.
The figures from 2011 reflect people who are 64 or younger and include people
living in the U.S. illegally. The study was conducted by the State Health Access
Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.
Health experts have said Arizona should expect to see nearly 800,000 newly
insured people in the coming years because of an expansion of its Medicaid
program recently pushed through the Legislature and an influx from the
Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for subsidized private insurance ends March
31 for people who don’t have health care through their jobs.
Meanwhile, community health advocates are fanning out across Arizona to educate
residents on insurance options. An estimated 1.2 million of Arizona’s 6.7
million residents are uninsured.
Among Arizona’s 15 counties, La Paz and Santa Cruz have the highest rate of
nonelderly uninsured at 26 percent, according to the study, followed by Yuma and
Coconino. Greenlee has the lowest rate of uninsured at 14 percent, the study
The Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers and its members have been
visiting food banks, school-based clinics, head start facilities and other
organizations that provide services to low-income people to reach out to the
uninsured and help them understand what is available.
“We’re not sitting waiting for people to just come to us,” said Allen
Gjersvig, the alliance’s director of health care innovation. “We’re trying to
engage people wherever you might find them.”