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Report reveals cost of Arizonans living without health insurance

July 01, 2009

The recession has pushed more people out of work, and as a result, swelled the ranks of Arizona’s uninsured. Arizona has one of the nation’s highest levels of residents without health insurance – almost one in five people.

Truth and Consequences: Gambling, Shifting, and Hoping in Arizona Health Care, a new report by Morrison Institute for Public Policy, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, and the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business, combines research on the costs and benefits of health insurance with the stories of Arizonans who lack health insurance. The result is a compelling picture of lost dollars, potential, and opportunity.

According to report contributor and ASU economist Dr. Kent Hill, “Health care is expensive, but the costs of poor health can be enormous.” Treatment costs alone for chronic disease in Arizona for example are estimated to be $4.2 billion, or 2.3% of the gross state product. By 2023, projected costs for major chronic diseases are $99 billion, of which more than $25 billion could be avoidable.

In addition to facts and figures, the report puts faces and stories to the statistics

• Josh, age 47, unemployed and without health insurance suffers from hypertension: “It’s either eat and pay the rent, or pay insurance. I’d rather keep a roof over my head at this point.” He hopes to find work soon, just as he hopes to have health insurance someday. “I have a lot of friends who don’t have it (insurance),” he said. “I think they’re dealing with it like I am: Hoping we don’t get sick.”

• Andrea, mother of two, panicked when her husband lost his job and her family lost their health insurance. Now they gamble on good health: “I’ve been lucky. I have healthy kids” she says. “Yes, I do wish I had insurance, but I have one of those attitudes that says, ‘We’ll just deal with it.’”

• Margaret, age 43, lost her health insurance when the marketing firm where she worked went bankrupt: “(Recently) I was lying in my bed shaking and sweating and in more pain that I ever thought I could be in,” said Margaret, who lives alone. “My family members were going to call 911 but I said give me another 20 minutes, ’cause I was afraid of the bill. I gutted it out.”

Truth and Consequences presents recommendations to Arizona’s policymakers that could help the state fare better in the future so that Arizona can stop taking risks on residents’ health and health care. Read the full report at and