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More than half of Arizonans now without health insurance will be covered by the Affordable Care Act by 2015, say officials of a rural health center.

Arizona has 1.2 million residents without health insurance, said Dan Derksen, director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

"Arizona is right around the bottom five states in terms of percentage of population that is insured," Derksen said. "Iit’s especially true for percentage of uninsured children."

The state’s recent restoration and expansion of Medicaid coverage, along with implementation of the Federal Heath Insurance Marketplaces beginning Oct. 1, will significantly reduce the number of people living without coverage, Derksen said.

"How many people that are eligible actually enroll in these new marketplaces, or are covered by Medicaid, depends on how well we do with the outreach," he said, "how well we set up on-site assistance to help people that are uninsured sign up for what they’re eligible for and how well we do in getting the information out especially in rural areas, especially in tribal communities."

Derksen said the 40th annual Arizona Rural Health Conference in Prescott later this month will focus on implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the state.