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.