About 4 million people in Oregon are covered by health insurance, marking an increase of nearly 60,000 people in two years.
That’s according to the Oregon Health Authority. He said the percentage of Oregonians with health insurance fell from 94% in 2019 to 95.4% last year.
The increase was primarily due to more people receiving federal Medicaid coverage. Nearly 30% of people surveyed last year said they were on Oregon’s health plan, Oregon’s Medicaid system, up from one in four Oregonians in 2019.
“The number of people entering Medicaid per month who have never been on Medicaid before has remained stable before and during the pandemic at approximately 9,000 people per month,” the state said.
The biggest increase in coverage was among black people in Oregon, the agency said, with its insurance rate rising from nearly 92% to 95%. There were fewer gains among Hispanics and among native populations in Alaska and the United States, while coverage among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders fell, the agency said.
Medicaid coverage also increased in rural areas of the state, from 93.8% to 94.6%, and in border areas from 91% to 92.3%. In some rural and border counties, such as Jefferson, Josephine, Malheur and Klamath counties, two out of five residents receive Medicaid.
People who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $17,000 a year in Oregon for an individual, are eligible for free Medicaid coverage. It includes health and dental care, mental health care, prescriptions, and vision and hearing coverage. Currently, about 1.3 million Oregonians are on Medicaid.
“We know that keeping people enrolled in health insurance – whether it’s a public program or their employment-based coverage – is key to reducing our uninsured rate so that people can access essential health care services,” said Jeremy Vandehey, Director of Health Policy. and analytics at the Oregon Health Authority. “Specifically, this two-year period shows that people opting in and out of insurance means they end up losing their coverage. Therefore, it is extremely important to break these cycles and keep people signed up permanently.
The end of enhanced Medicaid coverage is expected to come this year, putting more people back on the open market to find coverage. The state is preparing for a transition that will include steering people into the health insurance market. About 147,000 people signed up for coverage in the market this year.
“For those no longer eligible for OHP, we will work to ensure they access a market plan or connect to other programs,” Vandehey said. “This shift is critical, as the data shows, because we cannot lose people when they leave Medicaid. If we do, much of that hard-earned coverage gain will be lost.
CORRECTION: The Oregon Health Authority has released the Oregon Insurance Rate press release. An earlier version of this story cited the Department of Consumer and Business Services monitoring the federal market. But now it is under the authority of health.