AZ health officials don't expect patient surge - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Top AZ health officials don't expect patient surge from Affordable Care Act

Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

There are about 1.2 million Arizonans who don't have medical insurance, but with the Oct. 1 opening of the insurance exchange, they now have access to it.

Experts told CBS 5 News, at best, about half of those who are uninsured will become insured by Jan. 1, 2014.

"We are not expecting a surge," said Greg Vigdor, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. "We're, of course, in touch with our members, asking them if they see a surge, so we'll be on top of it and know what to do. We think the changes will take place over time, rather than immediately."

Vigdor said he doesn't expect to see hospitals and doctors' offices flooded with new patients now that the insurance marketplace is open, because not everyone knows about it.

"We are using the federal exchange and because of that we didn't get a lot of money to market that opportunity for new coverage," he explained.

States that have their own insurance exchanges received federal dollars to get the word out.

In Arizona, it's been a grassroots effort through the coalition "Cover Arizona."

"We now have 600 individuals and organizations that are participating to try to help identify the uninsured, inform, educate, assist with enrollment and get them in for help," said Cheri Tomlinson, director of grants for Maricopa Integrated Health System.

Tomlinson said people who are insured and benefiting from preventative medicine will eventually lighten the load for emergency departments, which typically treat the very sick and those without insurance.

"Remember some of them are already coming to community health clinics and so forth," she said. "So, there's some capacity there - and now they'll be able to access primary care on a regular basis."

But, once everyone who can does get health insurance, whether it be through the marketplace or Arizona's Medicaid, there are concerns about whether there will be enough primary care physicians.

It's something to consider, given there's already a nationwide shortage of internal medicine and family practitioners.

"We have to wait and see how it all shakes out," said Vigdor. "How will supply and demand match up months and years from now, is really the question. And, I don't think anyone really has a complete answer on that one yet."

Tomlinson said MIHS will evaluate each month, to see if they need to add staff to accommodate more patients.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Huge alligator snapping turtle set free

    Huge alligator snapping turtle set free

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 12:27 PM EDT2014-04-15 16:27:58 GMT
    There is good news for an alligator snapping turtle that was rescued from a drainage ditch a week ago. "Snappy," as the rescuers referred to the reptile, has been set free.More >>
    There is good news for an alligator snapping turtle that was rescued from a drainage ditch a week ago. "Snappy," as the rescuers referred to the reptile, has been set free.More >>
  • Fishermen say impacts still linger from BP oil spill

    Fishermen say impacts still linger from BP oil spill

    Thursday, April 17 2014 6:23 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:23:48 GMT
    Against a backdrop of shrimp boats, Vietnamese fishermen held message boards, along with pictures of dead dolphins, turtles and tar balls. Four years later, the impact of the oil spill remains.More >>
    Against a back drop of shrimp boats, Vietnamese fishermen held signs with pictures of dead dolphins and sea turtles this morning. They were at the fishing dock on Biloxi Back Bay to join advocacy groups in a news conference talking about the impacts of the BP oil spill four years later.More >>
  • Affidavit: Diary detailed cop's relationship with teen

    Affidavit: Diary detailed cop's relationship with teen

    Thursday, April 10 2014 6:53 AM EDT2014-04-10 10:53:05 GMT
    A Harrison County affidavit WLOX obtained said a young girl's diary detailed the relationship between former officer Patrick Klis and a 15-year-old girl. WLOX also found online pictures of Klis and a young girl.More >>
    WLOX News has uncovered new details about what led investigators to arrest a Long Beach Police officer for three counts of sexual battery involving a minor. A Harrison County affidavit WLOX obtained said a young girl's diary detailed the relationship between former officer Patrick Klis and a 15-year-old girl. WLOX also found online pictures of Klis and a young girl.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.