The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Obamacare just cut Oregon’s uninsured rate by 10 percent

Placeholder while article actions load

This via Nick Budnick, the Oregonian reporter who covers all things health policy:

Though the Oregon's health insurance exchange is not yet up and running, the number of uninsured is already dropping thanks to new fast-track enrollment for the Oregon Health Plan.


The low-income, Medicaid-funded program has already signed up 56,000 new people, cutting the state's number of uninsured by 10 percent, according to Oregon Health Authority officials.


Though the new exchange called Cover Oregon was originally intended to be used for Oregon Health Plan enrollment, the online marketplace doesn't work yet. Instead, new Oregon Health Plan members are being enrolled using a fast-track process that was approved by the federal government in August.

This might come as a surprise to the health wonks who have followed Oregon, and watched the state delay consumers' ability to access the marketplace directly on day one. Officials at the state exchange, Cover Oregon, worried that initial glitches would trip up shoppers.

"When Google launched Gmail, you had to be invited," spokeswoman Amy Fauver told me a while back. "That was their beta launch. That was their way to identify bugs. Our benefit is that our initial users will be community partners who will be trained on the system."

At the same time, the state has a governor who is obsessed with the Medicaid program (you can read more about that here). Oregon is among one of the 26 states planning to expand Medicaid--and it made sure that those eligible knew about the option.

"Since late September, the Oregon Health Authority sent out notices to 260,000 people already enrolled in the state's food stamps program since late October," Budnick writes. "To enroll, all they have to do is make a phone call or send a form consenting to be enrolled. So far, 56,000 people have done that, coming on top of more than 600,000 already enrolled."

It is probably not Oregon's twee advertisements that get credit for the big enrollment spike, but rather a wave of notices targeting the exact people who are supposed to qualify for Obamacare's benefits in the first place.