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Dec-05-2017 18:43printcomments

94 Percent of Oregonians Now Have Health Insurance

Federal actions could reduce coverage, officials warn

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(SALEM, Ore.) - Nearly 94 percent of Oregonians have health insurance, according to a report released today by the Oregon Health Authority.

The findings come from the biennial Oregon Health Insurance Survey, which asks people in 9,000 Oregon households about insurance coverage, access to care and health care use.

The survey, conducted between March and August of 2017, found that nearly 3.7 million Oregonians have health coverage. That’s an increase of 10 percentage points since 2014 when the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate went into effect.

While levels of insurance coverage in Oregon remain stable since the previous survey in 2015, state officials expressed concern that recent federal changes jeopardize Oregon’s ability to sustain current coverage rates.

This year the federal government shortened the open enrollment period for individual coverage by six weeks. In addition, Congress has failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers approximately 120,000 children in the state.

“With less than two weeks left of open enrollment, now is the time for Oregonians to shop and enroll in 2018 health insurance before the Dec. 15 deadline,” said Jean Straight, acting director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

“This is the only chance for most individuals to enroll in health insurance for 2018 and missing the Dec. 15 deadline could lead to them being uninsured for all of 2018.”

Jeremy Vandehey, acting director of health policy for the Oregon Health Authority, agrees with Straight's concerns.

“The percentage of people in Oregon with health insurance remains above the national average, but we worry that proposals at the federal level could significantly increase our uninsured rate or shift costs to Oregon and other states,” Vandehey said.

“One example of this is Congress’ failure to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We are using state funds to continue CHIP coverage through April, but are counting on Congress to renew federal funding and prevent a disruption of care.”

According to the Oregon Health Insurance survey released today, nearly half (47 percent) of Oregonians are covered by private group policies.

More than one-quarter of Oregonians (26 percent) receive health coverage through the Oregon Health Plan, which includes Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment program.

Another 15 percent have Medicare coverage; 5 percent have individual coverage and 6 percent are uninsured.

There was a decrease of 0.9 percentage points in the number of Oregonians who have health insurance from 2015 to 2017. The decrease is not statistically significant, and likely reflects changes in the way the data was collected and analyzed in 2017 versus earlier years.

In 2017 the analytic team used a more sophisticated method of collecting and weighting the data, which likely represents a more accurate picture of the number of people insured in the state.

Other highlights of the 2017 Oregon Health Insurance Survey:

  • The proportion of Oregonians with gaps in health coverage remained the same from 2015-2017
  • Health insurance coverage differs by age
  • Younger adults are less likely to have coverage compared to older adults
  • About 88 percent of young adults in Oregon have health coverage

Read the full report on the Oregon Health Authority website at http://www.oregon.gov/oha/HPA/ANALYTICS/InsuranceData/2017-OHIS-Early-Release-Results.pdf.

Oregonians who need individual coverage have until December 15 to sign up for individual coverage through HealthCare.gov.

Oregonians who are eligible for Medicaid benefits can enroll anytime during the year through the OregONEligibility website.

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©2017 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


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