Thousands to be added to health plan


Almost everyone dreams of winning a lottery jackpot.

Beginning in March, the state plans a lottery that won't make anyone a millionaire, but will change the lives of its winners. It will add 2,000 Oregonians each month to the Oregon Health Plan.

The monthly drawings will last for almost a year.

The Oregon Health Plan was created in the mid-1990s as a reform to expand Medicaid to the working poor. At its peak, the plan served 132,000 poor adults who do not qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage. But with rising costs and a tight state budget, enrollment was scaled back in 2000.

The plan is not expanding in 2008, but simply replacing those lost to attrition since the state stopped accepting new members four years ago.

The plan raises enough money through taxes on hospitals and managed-care health plans to provide health coverage for a monthly average of 24,000 adults, said Karen House, a medical program director with the Department of Human Services. Since average enrollment has been low, it can grow to 32,000 &

from 19,000 now &

and still stay within the plan's budget, she said.

Adults 19 to 65 who do not qualify for Medicaid and earn incomes less than the federal poverty level are eligible to apply for the lottery between Jan. 28 and Feb. 29.

Dusty Sargent, 25, of Milwaukie said he will play the health plan lottery. He said he was on the plan four of five years ago, but got bumped off before his first doctor's visit.

"I haven't had a whole lot of access to the health care system," he said. "If it is really bad, I'll just go to the emergency room."

About 15.6 percent of Oregon's population, or about 576,000 people, lack health insurance. About 30 percent of young adults are uninsured.

Share This Story