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Updated Sep 4, 2013 - 2:36 pm

Care for uninsured cost Maricopa health services $120 million in 2011

PHOENIX -- About 1-in-5 Arizonans didn't have health insurance in 2011 and it cost Maricopa County Integrated Health Services about $120 million to cover their medical bills, a county official said.

"It has impacted everybody," said system President/CEO Betsey Bayless. "In our case, it cost us $120 million per year to treat the uninsured."

Gov. Jan Brewer's signature to put 300,000 more Arizonans on the state's version of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act should help, but Bayless said she sees a ramp up of uninsured who will pay the fine that comes with not signing up for insurance under Obamacare rather than paying for health coverage.

"This will take effect Jan. 1 but there will be people who will not sign up even though they will be able to purchase health insurance through the exchange. For a lot of people it will be cheaper to pay the fine, but some of them will be in accidents and looking to the emergency rooms for care. "

Bayless will be stepping down from her post by the end of the year after serving eight years.

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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