Obamacare Enrollment in Arizona Already More Successful Than Last Year

Arizonans have signed up for national healthcare to the tune of 169,178 since November 15, and time's a-ticking for anybody else who wants coverage. Open enrollment ends February 15.

The latest statistics are encouraging. Governor Doug Ducey may have called the Affordable Care Act "a monumental failure" and "one of the worst laws ever signed by an American President," but a report released earlier this month from the Department of Health and Human Services says otherwise.

New Times spoke with the Director of our HHS region, Melissa Strafford Jones, to find out how the sign-ups are going in Arizona. We learned that already in this enrollment period, 120,000 more Arizonans have applied for coverage than did last year.

"We are really encouraging everyone to explore their options and find a plan," Jones says.

And the message seems to be paying off: 10 million more Americans have health insurance than at the end of 2013. (We suggest you check out the report because it's filled with interesting tidbits like this.)

It turns out that the increase in enrollment isn't the only good news; 77 percent of enrolled Arizonans qualified for financial assistance to reduce their monthly premium rate, and 72 percent will pay $100 or less. What's more, this year's penalty for lacking healthcare is higher.

Whether it's shoes, booze, or artisanal mayonnaise, when it comes to shopping, we all love options. In Arizona, we can choose from 13 different healthcare providers this season, three more than we had last year and six more than the national average. Options improve if you live in Maricopa county: residents have 127 unique plans to choose from (up from 111) while the state average is 71.

Now, to be fair, more options means more plans to sift-through and more premium rates to compare. But it also means "we are seeing the marketplace function," Jones explains. "Having a range of options allows folks to figure out what works for them." It allows people to balance cost with other important issues, like whether a particular doctor is in-network, or what they want to pay for prescription medications.

"There's been a lot of effort to reach out to people in their communities," Jones says. There are over 700 navigators available across the state to help guide you through the selection process. And if that's not your thing, you can always do it online, over the phone, or at an enrollment party.

Jones acknowledges that there are a lot of healthcare haters out there but wants to remind you that signing up means "knowing you can get access to care when the unexpected occurs. And that it won't put your family at a financial loss." (Plus, preventative care costs individuals and society less in the long run.)

So if you haven't yet enrolled or renewed your plan, you have 23 days left to get out there and shop.

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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser