Local outreach helps uninsured Tucsonans - Tucson News Now

Local outreach helps uninsured Tucsonans sign up for health insurance

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

With the healthcare enrollment deadline swiftly approaching, some uninsured Tucsonans are attending community outreach events that help them understand which plan they qualify for.

The Tucson Urban League held an enrollment outreach event at the Angel Youth Center on Park Avenue Wednesday.

At least two dozen people attended the event to sign up for the marketplace plan offered by healthcare.gov. Others enrolled in the state-run Medicaid program known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS.

The marketplace plans are offered through private insurance providers and subject to the deadline, while enrollment for AHCCCS is ongoing throughout the year.

Organizers said they're focusing on expediting enrollment for marketplace plan consumers, considering the March 31 deadline.

Meantime, the University of Arizona College of Public Health has done research on who is still uninsured in Arizona.

Dan Derksen with the UA Center for Rural Health said of Arizona's estimated 1.2 million who are uninsured, roughly half are Hispanic.

Tucson Urban League regional navigator Deborah Johnson said Hispanic and Latino groups are among the most underserved when it comes to health insurance.

"I think that there's some fears that have to do with immigration status; I think that there's also just misinformation," Johnson said.

But outreach events like Wednesday's hope to turn that around.

"We're right in the epicenter of the need and we have done outreach through our churches, and we've done neighborhood canvassing to try to get the word out," Johnson said.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal agency that operates the health insurance marketplace in Arizona, has also been tracking enrollment. Its regional administrator, David Sayen, said they have seen a recent surge in enrollment among the Hispanic demographic.

"So we're happy to see that. We want to see more of that. We have a Spanish website, cuiadodesalud.gov, and in our 1-800 number, there are native Spanish speakers available."

Tucson Urban League will hold its next enrollment event on Saturday, March 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the same location on Park Avenue.

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