TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The deadline to enroll in healthcare through the Affordable Care Act for 2019 is Saturday, Dec. 15. As that deadline approaches though, the number of people enrolling is down, both in Arizona and across the U.S.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 8 73,214 people in Arizona applied and chose a healthcare plan through the Affordable Care Act. That number is down from that same time frame in 2017, when CMS says 87,687 had applied and selected a healthcare plan.
Those numbers aren’t the only ones that are down. Nationally the number of calls to healthcare.gov offices from people looking for help with enrollment are down by over a million from November to now, going from 4,363,201 calls in 2017 to 3,465,760 calls this year. Along with that. the number of healthcare plan selections across the country is down by the hundreds of thousands.
Medical professionals say there’s not one specific reason for the drop but many of them say it could be related to the national Department of Health and Human Services cutting their advertising budget by 90 percent, making far fewer people aware of the approaching deadline. Healthcare leaders at Tucson Medical Center tell me they think that’s largely the reason behind the decrease. In fact they’re concerned a lot of southern Arizonans aren’t even aware that the deadline to enroll is Dec. 15, which is why they’re trying to get the word out and encourage people to at least consider the idea of enrolling.
“Something can happen unexpectedly. You can be in a car accident, you can get an unexpected diagnosis that can cost you thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and have to make very difficult choices for yourself and your family. If you have coverage, what you’re able to do is access that care when you need it," Julia Strange, the Vice President of Community Benefit at TMC, said.
If you’re looking to enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act you have options, either shopping for a private insurance plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace or, if you earn a lower income, you can qualify for Arizona’s Medicaid program, AHCCCS. Kids can also qualify for the Arizona’s Children’s Health Insurance Program called KidsCare.
For those wanting help applying in Pima County, the Pima County Enrollment Coalition is hosting an enrollment event tomorrow form 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Abrams Center on South Country Club Road.