Health | Local

Oregon Improving On Health Care Coverage

OPB | Sept. 12, 2012 4:11 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 12, 2012 11:51 p.m. | Portland

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Oregon’s reputation as a health care pioneer is beginning to show up in national statistics. New numbers from the U.S. Census show Oregon as the only state in the country to significantly reduce the number of uninsured people in the state over the last few years.

Dozens of states saw increases in the number of people without health insurance — including all of Oregon’s neighbors. Washington’s proportion went up almost two percent.

Uninsured numbers went up more than two-and-a-half percent in Idaho and Nevada.

California’s rose slightly. But Oregon Health Authority director Bruce Goldberg was pleased to see numbers headed the other direction.

“My understanding of looking at the national data pretty quickly, is that we were the only state that had a significant decrease in the number of people who don’t have health care coverage over the past three years.”

Goldberg says the census doesn’t break down who’s gaining or losing health insurance across the country, but he has a sense of what’s driving Oregon’s numbers. It’s the 113,000 children that have gotten health insurance through the state’s Healthy Kids program.

But Goldberg says Oregon still has lots of work to do.

“The not-so-good-news about this is that there’s still too many Oregonians who don’t have health care coverage. 500,000, more than half a million Oregonians don’t have health care coverage; many who are working, but don’t have coverage through their job.”

Census watchers say the latest figures are not detailed enough to be broken down by regions within the state. But they’re looking forward to next week, when another report comes out, that can do that.

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