This article has been corrected to more accurately explain the newly enrolled population of the Oregon Health Plan. The original version mischaracterized the 2014 enrollment numbers as only those who are eligible through expansion of Medicaid requirements.
It's time for another enrollment update. Here are the numbers as of Tuesday:
- Enrollment through OHP Fast-track: 130,044
- Enrollment through Cover Oregon: 97,261
- Total new 2014 OHP enrollment so far: 227,305
Let's stop a moment and think about what these numbers mean.
The Oregon Health Plan is now open to more people than it has been in the past. Before the federal Affordable Care Act went into effect, Medicaid/OHP was generally limited to children, pregnant women, parents, people with disabilities, and low-income seniors, and the income limit to qualify was at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). With the ACA, more people are eligible and there is more federal funding to provide coverage.
These new enrollments also include people who were eligible last year but are enrolling now because they are hearing from friends and family who have gained coverage. In the months to come we will have more information about who the new enrollees are.
For today, though, we know that these enrollments include people like Tristan Fields, a graduate student at the University of Oregon. She works part-time at the university but does not work enough hours to have insurance coverage. She has been denied private coverage repeatedly because she had a pre-existing condition, a surgery she had on her knee in 2010.
When Tristan learned recently that more people would be covered by OHP in 2014, she decided to apply. In January she filled out the form a friend brought her from an application fair and she sent it in through Cover Oregon.
"It was easy to apply. I just filled out the application and sent it in," she said. When Tristan opened the envelope in February telling her she was covered by the Oregon Health Plan, she cried with joy.
“I was thrilled. It had been so stressful without health insurance. I felt unsafe in the world,” she said. An active woman, Tristan was constantly worried about getting hurt when doing the things she loves such as surfing, swimming and riding her bike.
Now that she’s insured, she has the security to maintain her healthy, active lifestyle without worrying about financial catastrophe or being a burden to her parents.
And that’s what health insurance is for most of us, including young people like Tristan. It’s the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you will have access to the health care you need, when you need it. And now, many more people across the state can share this peace of mind and financial security.