MEDFORD, Ore. – Cover Oregon is hitting the airwaves in preparation for its big debut. Today, the online health insurance marketplace unveils its $3.2 million ad campaign before officially starting up this fall.
The state’s answer to the Affordable Care Act, Cover Oregon includes an online marketplace for public and private options, a way to apply for financial assistance, and also an expansion to the Oregon Health Plan for low-income patients. Cover Oregon officials say their goal is to have 400,000 new Oregonians insured in the first year.
Jewell Caldwell is one of those Oregonians.
Jewell is on daily painkillers for a degenerative disk and arthritis in her back. That and a hip in need of replacement have left her unable to perform most tasks.
“On good days I can strip the bed, wash it, and put it back. But there are days where I couldn’t do that because I hurt so bad,” said Caldwell.
Most of Caldwell’s expenses are covered by her dual insurance – Medicare Disability and Oregon Health Plan. But between her surgery, medicine, and maintenance on the motorized chair she needs to get around, she still pays a lot out of pocket.
Experts at Medford’s Community Health Center say for people like her, finding coverage, or filling the gaps in coverage, can be overwhelming.
“It’s almost like going into a candy store when you haven’t had candy in a long-long time,” said Community Health Center Executive Director Peg Crowley.
And that’s where Cover Oregon looks to make a difference.
“All of a sudden there’s an opportunity now for them to get some kind of coverage and get some assistance in getting that coverage,” said Crowley.
The community center estimates that about 4,000 of their patients alone will be able to find affordable coverage through this system.
That means more income for them, but it also means figuring out how to serve these soon-to-be-insured patients.
“It depends on ultimately what plan they’re in, what insurance they have, do they stay here?” said Crowley.
Crowley says the bottom line for health centers like hers is greater compensation but also greater complexity.
But she says that’s okay, it’s about helping patients like Jewell find the care they need.