Sometimes as we do our work it can be difficult to see the results. But this week two pieces of good news were released that show just what a difference we make in Oregon.
Over the past two years there has been a strong effort to bring children into health care coverage through the Healthy Kids program. When we started, it was a brand new idea that every child in Oregon would have access to health care. It took education, good partnership, and communication to get the word out to families and stakeholders that the program existed, that sign-up was easy, and that it would work for them.
Today I am happy to report that we've had great success. Since 2009 the child uninsurance rate in Oregon has been cut approximately in half. It went from 11.3 to 5.6 percent this year, according to the 2011 Oregon Health Insurance Survey.
Through the Healthy Kids program more children have access to the health care they need, from routine checkups and immunizations to emergency, dental and vision care. Having this coverage also means fewer families will endure the emotional and financial hardships they faced when an uninsured child became ill.
This is a huge accomplishment for the Office of Healthy Kids, the Office of Private Health Partnerships, the Division of Medical Assistance Programs, the Department of Human Services, participating health insurers, and so many community partners. Every single person involved in helping families with Healthy Kids - and there were many - deserves our praise and thanks.
We also received word this week about the importance that health care coverage makes in the lives of adults on the Oregon Health Plan, by looking at people who received coverage over the past few years.
Compared with people without insurance, newly covered Oregonians were:
- 55 percent more likely to have a regular doctor;
- 25 percent more likely to call their health good or excellent;
- 40 percent less likely to say their health had worsened in the past year;
- 40 percent less likely to borrow money or stop paying other bills to pay for medical bills.
These impacts cannot be underestimated. Having access to affordable health care makes a huge difference in the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
You can read more about this landmark study and its findings at the Oregon Health Study website.
I know many challenges lie ahead as we continue transforming our health care system. But as we face them, we can do so confidently, knowing that our shared commitment and hard work are producing results and changing lives.