Census: Number Of Uninsured Arizonans Grew In 2018

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 5:39pm
Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 10:38am

The number of uninsured people in Arizona went up significantly from a year ago, according to Census numbers out last week.

The new numbers say 55,000 more Arizonans went uninsured in 2018 compared to 2017. Arizona was one of eight states with a statistically significant increase in uninsured people.

Allen Gjersvig, director of navigator and enrollment services with the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers, said he thinks one reason for the decrease is that immigrants are worried that receiving public benefits will affect their effort to secure a visa or Green Card.

“What we are seeing across Arizona are people coming to community health centers and other community locations asking to voluntarily withdraw from AHCCCS,” he said. “Even though they are 100% legally eligible.”

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is the state’s Medicaid program, which covers low income people.

The Trump administration recently finalized changes that expand what benefits immigration authorities consider during a “public charge” test of a visa applicant. The test is to determine whether the person would need significant government assistance to stay in the U.S.

More information on the new public charge rules can be found here.

In an analysis of the potential effects of the new rule, the Kaiser Family Foundation said even people whose immigration status would be unaffected by the change, such as U.S. citizens born to immigrant parents, could go without health insurance. This could be due to confusion about the new parameters of what constitutes a “public charge” or fear that a child’s use of benefits could affect a parent’s immigration case.

The new provisions of the public charge rule go into effect on Oct. 15.

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