Local providers look to sign more people up for health care - Tucson News Now

Local providers look to sign more people up for health care

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More people are signing up for the president's health care program, but the total is still well below what the administration has been hoping for.

Since October, nearly 365,000 people have signed up at healthcare.org. However, that's less than one-third the number officials had been aiming for prior to the website going live.

In Arizona, about 3,600 people have signed up.

Tech teams have fixed a lot of the website's glitches, but it still has service problems. Plus, the real enrollment crunch is about to start.

Americans who want coverage on Jan. 1 have until Dec. 23 to choose a healthcare plan from the marketplace.

Meanwhile, a new health care survey concludes that a high number of people without health insurance is weighing down Arizona when it comes to Arizona's overall healthiness.

The United Health Foundation says Arizona is 28th in the nation for healthiness.

Along with health insurance issues, the survey also points to a high number of children in poverty and to drug deaths.

The rankings show continuing issues in Pima County with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

In Pima County local health care providers agree with some of the findings, and also say a shortage of primary care physicians, not enough mental health professionals, and the fact that so many Arizonans lack health care coverage all contribute to the health situation in the community.

Local health care providers are working to get more people signed up for health care.

They also are now working to provide a continuum of care.

That's so all your doctors and other providers know what all the others are doing and prescribing.

It pays off in several ways, especially by catching problems early. 

"We're seeing a lower emergency room, helping you stay out of the emergency room because we're picking it up earlier and taking care of it. We're seeing better utilization of your medications. Now you're taking your medications more appropriately. So we're seeing, as a result of all that, our costs are going down and your quality is going up. Your health outcomes are improving," says Donna Zazworksky, Carondelet Health Network Vice President for Community Health and Continuum Care.

Zazworksky says another key component is the patient themselves, taking responsibility for their health.

A person can become the one weak link in health care if he won't advocate for himself or follow through. 

"That means seeing your doctor. Having a physician or a nurse practitioner as your primary care provider. It means building a relationship with them--not just waiting until you're sick--but going in for your regular exams," Zazworksky says.

Health care workers say the patient becomes an important part of the continuum of care, part of the health care team.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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