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Arizona health insurance

Arizona ranked 36th on healthiness; how Obamacare could help

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Arizona’s population grew by 25 percent between 2000 and 2010, and the influx continues. If you are considering a move to Arizona – or if you already live there – you’re likely interested in factors that impact the overall health of the state’s residents. We’ve put together a partial list of those factors for your consideration.

How Arizona ranks among the states

Arizona is rated 36th by the Scorecard on State Health System Performance 2014, which compares the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona climbed four spots from its ranking in 2009. Visit the Arizona Scorecard to see the factors that contribute to the state’s overall “healthiness” rating.

Arizona lands a bit higher on the list in America’s Health Rankings, earning the 28th spot. Highlights for the state include low death rates from cancer or cardiovascular disease, a low rate of work-related deaths, and a low rate of preventable hospitalizations. However, Arizona’s rating remains near the middle of the pack due to low high school graduation rates, significant differences in health status depending on education level, and high rates of drug-related deaths.

Visit Key Health Data About Arizona to see how Arizona ranks on health indicators, public health readiness measures, and public health funding indicators.

Health status can vary significantly across a state. For a more focused look, review county-by-county ratings for Arizona; this data comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

Arizona and the Affordable Care Act

In voting on the Affordable Care Act, both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jon Kyl voted no. Arizona’s eight representatives split their votes along party lines: the four Democrats voted yes, while the four Republicans voted no. The ACA was signed into law in March 2010.

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer was vocally opposed to the Affordable Care Act, even calling a special legislative session in 2010 to advance her position. Brewer wanted permission to join the lawsuit challenging the health care reform law after the state’s Democratic attorney general refused to join the suit.

In the 2010 election, Arizona voters approved a state constitutional amendment barring any rules or regulations that would force state residents to participate in a health care system.

Despite opposing the overall ACA, Brewer was in favor of state-run health insurance exchange – saying it was preferable to a one-size-fits-all model imposed by the federal government. To that end, Brewer established the Office of Health Insurance Exchange, and the state took numerous steps toward setting up a state-run exchange. However, state legislators and a public majority remaining opposed, Brewer ultimately bowed to public sentiment and defaulted to the federally facilitated marketplace.

How did the ACA help Arizona’s uninsured?

Arizona saw a 3.74 percent drop in its uninsured rate over the course of the 2014 open enrollment period. Arizona’s uninsured rate is now estimated at 16.38 percent, placing it above the national average of 14.22 percent.

Arizonans enrollment in QHPs

Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated Arizona’s potential market for the health insurance exchange at 551,000 and estimated that 313,000 of those potential consumers would qualify for tax subsidies. Actual results from the 2014 open enrollment period showed that 120,071 people signed up for qualified health plans (QHPs) and 144,376 qualified for financial assistance. In addition to those that signed up for QHPs, 101,282 Arizona residents were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Eight insurers sold policies through the federal marketplace in Arizona during 2014 open enrollment: Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Cigna, Health Choice, Humana, Health Net of Arizona, and Meritus Health Partners. Together, they offered more than 100 plan options.

Meritus is the operating name for Compass Cooperative Health Network, a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP). The Affordable Care Act established a federal loan program to encourage the creation of these nonprofit, consumer-run entities as an alternatives to for-profit insurers. Compass Cooperative Health Network received a loan of more than $93 million.

Medicaid in Arizona

Gov. Brewer followed a different course than most Republican governors and pushed hard for Medicaid expansion in Arizona. A bill authorizing expansion was passed with some Republican support and signed into law by Brewer in 2013. However, the expansion has been repeatedly challenged.

With Medicaid expansion in place, 63 percent of uninsured nonelderly people in Arizona are eligible for financial assistance to gain medical insurance coverage through either Medicaid or the marketplace. Sixteen percent of those currently uninsured are not eligible due to immigration status, and another 21 percent are ineligible because their incomes are too high or because they have access to affordable coverage through an employer.

Learn more about Arizona’s Medicaid program and KidsCare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Health reform legislation in Arizona

Here’s what’s happening legislatively with healthcare reform at the state level in Arizona: