Today, about 17 percent of Oregonians do not have health care coverage. These adults and families face economic insecurity, higher rates of depression, and other serious issues. Thousands more Oregonians every year are denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
To try to help as many people as possible, over the years Oregon has pieced together health care coverage for our state’s most vulnerable through a variety of special high-risk programs and subsidies. Meanwhile, about 90,000 people are on a reservation list hoping for a slot on the Oregon Health Plan.
Soon they can stop waiting.
In January 2014, the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) will be available to more low-income adults.
Federal health reform raised the income limit so that individuals making up to about $15,800 (or $32,500 a year for a family of four) will qualify for coverage. And our state is accepting federal funding to open the Oregon Health Plan to more people.
We are working hard to make sure that all uninsured Oregonians who qualify are informed and have the help they need to get enrolled for health coverage.
Some people qualify for “fast-track” enrollment. If they meet the qualifications for the Oregon Health Plan, people who have already qualified for food benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or who have children in the Oregon Health Plan will receive a letter next month with a “fast-track” enrollment form. If they return it, they are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan. They will not have to go to Cover Oregon or through a paper application process. We anticipate that we will be sending letters to about 200,000 people, letting them know how to enroll through this process.
Everyone else can get health insurance through Cover Oregon, the one-stop shop for most people. There they can apply for OHP or private coverage. We’ll be communicating directly with everyone we can to make sure they know how to apply. Here are a few examples:
- Oregon Medical Insurance Pool (OMIP) – Oregon’s high-risk pool. New protections for consumers make it easier for Oregonians to get coverage. People who have been denied coverage in the past will now qualify for the same health coverage – at the same cost – as everyone else. That means there is no longer a need for the high-risk pool that made it possible for them to purchase health insurance. There are about 11,400 people in OMIP. We will be working with them to ensure they know how to apply for private coverage or the Oregon Health Plan through Cover Oregon.
- OHP Reservation List. Everyone on the reservation list today will receive a letter from us next month letting them know that they have new options for coverage through Cover Oregon.
- Community-based outreach and enrollment: Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority have contracted with local community organizations to help us with on-the-ground assistance for hard-to-reach populations who qualify for coverage, including rural Oregon and diverse populations.
Open enrollment for 2014 coverage starts in 18 days on October 1. We are doing a lot of work to be ready, with more to come. I know that there will be some bumps in the road but I also know that our agency has a deep commitment to putting clients and consumers first and ensuring they have the information they need about their new health care choices.
For more information about what is happening with the Oregon Health Plan, go to our Oregon Health Plan 2014 website.