Cochise County residents have resources waiting to help with hea - Tucson News Now

Cochise County residents have resources waiting to help with health insurance

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Like many other parts of the country, Cochise County also faces the challenge of getting more people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Chiricahua Community Health Centers have eleven certified application counselors ready to provide one on one guidance to Medicaid and federal health insurance marketplace applicants.

Thursday was the fourth day on the job for Oralee Stokes as a certified application counselor.

"And it's been a combination of waiting, and then there's a big rush," Stokes said.

As a certified application counselor, Stokes leads people through applying for either Medicaid or one of the plans in the federal Marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act. In Sierra Vista and across Cochise County, getting the word out is also a part of the job.

"Reaching out and working with the community to let people know, especially providers, so they can tell their patients or their customers where people can go for information," Stokes said.

Once people decide to sign up, counselors will first take them to a state website that will determine their eligibility for Medicaid. If they're not, it sends them to the federal marketplace website. But right now, both sites have problems. Outreach and enrollment coordinator Alma Castel de Oro asked people to be patient and still call with questions.

"As we move forward with this Affordable Care Act, there's going to be glitches in the road that we will work through. But we want this to be as positive as possible," Castel de Oro said.

She said that they still have until December 15th to sign up at the market place for coverage to big in at the first of the year.

"If we can enroll them into Medicaid or marketplace, now they'll have insurance coverage and they'll be able to access services they need to keep them out of the emergency room," she said.

"I've seen truly need any folks just fall right through the cracks and it's heartbreaking. And to see them come back on, it's going to be really rewarding. I'm looking forward to that," Stokes said. 

She expected those who lost coverage a few years ago when the state cut single childless adults from the roles to be among the first ones to apply for coverage.

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