In 2011, the Oregon Health Authority reported that approximately 560,000 residents of this state lacked health insurance coverage. The recently passed Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act lessens this problem by bringing more affordable coverage options to uninsured Americans. As part of this new law, all insurance companies must now meet minimum coverage guidelines and can no longer turn applicants away or charge them higher rates because of pre-existing conditions. If you are an Oregon resident who needs health insurance for yourself or your family, now is a great time to start comparing policies and quotes.
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CDC Health Snapshot of Oregon Residents
Approximately half of all adult Oregon residents have one or more chronic diseases. These diseases, particularly when left untreated for a long period of time, can lead to overwhelming medical costs for those who do not have insurance coverage. Fortunately, early detection and intervention can make treatment less costly and can increase patients’ odds of improving their health.
Health insurance providers must now cover age-appropriate testing such as colonoscopies and mammograms in full. These tests are exceptionally effective at detecting the presence of cancer and other problems during their earliest and most treatable stages. People with suitable health insurance coverage are more likely to have these tests run and, therefore, tend to lead healthier lives.
What Is the Oregon Health Care Exchange?
The Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, became law March 23, 2010, and went into effect at the beginning of 2014. This law includes an individual mandate, which means that those who are currently uninsured must either obtain health insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty. The intention of this mandate is to keep the overall coverage costs low.
Each state has set up a health insurance marketplace, or exchange. Through the Oregon Healthcare Exchange, residents can take advantage of comprehensive and affordable low group rates when purchasing health insurance coverage.
To be eligible to purchase insurance through the Oregon Healthcare Exchange, you must be a state resident who does not have access to employer-provided health insurance and who does not qualify for either neither Medicare or Medicaid. Through the exchange, you can choose from bronze, silver, gold or platinum levels of coverage. The cost for these policies depends entirely on your age, the number of family members you need to insure, your annual household income and tobacco use if any. Rates are pro-rated so that those with the lowest incomes will pay these least for their coverage.
Health Risk Factors in Oregon as Reported by the CDC
- Approximately 17% of adults in this state smoke cigarettes.
- About 62% of adults in this state are overweight.
- An estimated 73% of adults eat fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- About 44% of adults do not engage in sufficient physical activity.
- Approximately 24% of Oregon’s women over the age of 40 state they have not had a mammogram in the past two years.
- About 39% of OR adults over the age of 50 have never had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
- In 2007, 20% of this state’s adults under 65 reported having no health insurance coverage.
Citizens of Oregon who do not have access to health insurance coverage may try to save money by doing without medical examinations, except at times when they are extremely ill or seriously injured. If you have health insurance, your policy will cover all of your preventive care, including any age-appropriate screening tests, in full. This means you can have an annual physical and routine testing with no deductibles and no co-pays.
Major Illnesses Can Bankrupt the Uninsured
A major illness, such as cancer or upper respiratory disease, can lead to several thousand dollars’ worth of medical care. Treatment becomes especially expensive for surgery or for ICU care. For those who are uninsured, these costs are typically unmanageable. It is little surprise that half of all personal bankruptcy filings in the United States are the result of overwhelming medical bills.
Tobacco use also leads to very high medical costs. According to the CDC, approximately 438,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of complications caused by smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. Additionally, for every one person who dies, another 20 suffer from at least one major tobacco-related illness. In a state where approximately one in five adults smoke cigarettes, these expenditures have really added up. In 2004 alone, residents of Oregon spent about $1.036 billion on smoking-related healthcare expenditures, as follows:
- $194 million on ambulatory care
- $541 million on in-patient hospital care
- $66 million on nursing home care
- $123 million on prescription drugs, and
- $112 million on other, miscellaneous expenses
Many insurance plans will cover your smoking cessation efforts. If you are a tobacco user, you may want to discuss your options with your doctor.
Get Help Comparing Health Insurance Quotes in Oregon
Health insurance policies with their many different terms and coverage levels can be confusing. It can be hard to decide between different copays, deductibles and premiums, and this, in turn, can make it difficult to figure out which policy is the best choice for you. There is no need to struggle with this decision on your own. An independent insurance agent in the Trusted Choice® network can assist you by answering your insurance-related questions; explaining your many different options; and helping you find and review plans and quotes on the Oregon Healthcare Exchange as well as on the private market.
There are several Trusted Choice agents with offices located throughout Oregon. Contact a member agent near you to learn more and to start comparing health insurance quotes for yourself and your family.