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DHS news release

March 17, 2008

Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
Program contact: Karen House 503-945-6254

Names on Oregon Health Plan reservation list come from all 36 counties

All 36 Oregon counties are represented on the Oregon Health Plan reservation list, which attracted the names of 91,000-plus low-income Oregonians who have no health insurance.

Applications for the health plan's Standard benefit package were mailed March 10 to 3,000 people whose names were randomly selected from the reservation list. Applications were sent to people in every county except Wheeler, which has the fewest names on the list at 35.

Multnomah, the state's most populous county with 19 percent of the state's population, has 22,397 names on the reservation list, or 24 percent of the total. Currently, 23 percent of people already enrolled in OHP-Standard live in Multnomah County. Fewer than 55 people put their names on the reservation list from rural Gilliam (39), Sherman (53) and Wheeler (35) counties, which also have the fewest people among the 17,700 currently enrolled.

"These numbers draw an intriguing profile of Oregonians' demand for health insurance," said Jim Edge, state Medicaid director in the Oregon Department of Human Services. "It's clear that DHS, stakeholders and the news media reached the entire state with the message, and that impressive numbers of people responded."

Oregonians eligible for OHP-Standard coverage are uninsured, low-income adults with few assets who don't qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage.
To be considered for OHP-Standard eligibility, recipients must return applications within 30 days of the date stamped on them. OHP-Standard is a part of the larger Oregon Health Plan, or Medicaid, which enrolls more than 398,000 people statewide.

By age group, the largest categories -- more than 20,000 each on the reservation list -- are 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54. Among Oregonians of all ages, 2006 state data show the age group least likely to have health insurance are people ages 21-24 (41.6 percent uninsured) followed by ages 25-29 (31.8 percent). Across all age groups, an estimated 15.6 percent of Oregonians lack health insurance.

These are the 10 counties with the largest numbers of names on the OHP-Standard reservation list (followed by the number of applications that were mailed March 10):

  • Multnomah: 22,397 (838 applications mailed);
  • Lane: 10,040 (383 applications mailed);
  • Marion: 6,862 (289 applications mailed);
  • Washington: 6,778 (284 applications mailed);
  • Clackamas: 5,537 (215 applications mailed);
  • Jackson: 5,378 (242 applications mailed);
  • Douglas: 4,305 (162 applications mailed);
  • Josephine: 3,055 (115 applications mailed);
  • Deschutes: 2,860 (134 applications mailed), and
  • Linn: 2,719 (122 applications mailed).

Edge said because people were asked only for their full name, mailing address and date of birth to get on the reservation list, no information is available about ethnicity or income levels.

He said DHS plans to mail applications in April to another 3,000 people whose names will be randomly drawn from the reservation list, which was open Jan. 28 through Feb. 29.

OHP-Standard, closed since June 2004, is being reopened to several thousand people to bring the number enrolled to a monthly average of 24,000 for the current two-year budget period. Standard's budget is supported by taxes on two industry groups, hospitals and Medicaid managed care insurance plans; modest premiums; and federal matching dollars.

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