After passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and after a hard-won fight to expand health insurance in Arizona in 2013, advocates quickly hunkered down to ensure Arizonans know their options, and they actually have access to them. Out of this effort, Cover Arizona Coalition was born.
Through its website, coveraz.org, the group, which counts more than 900 members, including big hospital groups like Banner Health, has since been in the trenches of helping citizens navigate through the often labyrinthine federal health insurance exchange. The group has trained hundreds to provide free assistance to Arizonans seeking coverage.
The efforts are paying off. While the open enrollment period this year was shortened, and outreach and advertising budgets were cut, the number of Arizonans who had registered for insurance has so far been higher than at the same time last year.
Marcus Johnson, director of state health policy & advocacy at Vitalyst Health Foundation, the coalition’s convener, said Cover Arizona adopted a two-pronged approach – policy advocacy and boots on the ground. “It’s no secret health coverage is complicated,” Johnson said. “Cover Arizona Coalition exists to help simplify things for Arizonans.”