Project Access NOW’s Outreach, Enrollment, and Access program (OEA) helped Portland area residents file their applications for health insurance during last year’s open enrollment period. In all, program staff helped clients to file 364 applications for coverage under the Affordable Care Act through the Federal Marketplace.
“Health insurance coverage is good for people,” said our executive director Linda Nilsen. “Research has shown us for many years that being uninsured means you are less likely to have access to preventive care and more likely to have unmanaged chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes.”
The 14 percent increase from last year in the number of filed applications defied both the national and state figures. While nationwide signups declined by 4 percent, in Oregon enrollment dropped by 5 percent, a first since the adoption of ACA. That we saw a dramatic increase in enrollment is a testimony to the efficacy of our program in enrolling uninsured metro residents for insurance.
New and Renewal Applications
Enrollment growth came primarily from renewal applications: in 2018, we saw a 51 percent increase in renewals, mostly for the second or third time. Despite increased outreach—we coordinated 12 bilingual enrollments event during the November 1–December 15 enrollment period—we saw a 16 percent decrease in new enrollments.
We attribute the drop in new enrollments to a number of factors:
- decrease in the number of uninsured, which makes the remaining ones more difficult to reach;
- the shortening of the enrollment period;
- confusion among our clients as to the changes in health insurance;
- hesitation among the immigrant population to surrender their information to a federal database.
- end of “penalty” from IRS for remaining uninsured.
A Smooth Process
Ellie Solares-Solis, OEA program supervisor, said “This was the smoothest Open Enrollment the OEA team has experienced. We worked hard to ensure ease of access to our services through varied assistance locations and weekend events. I am proud to be a part of this team. They were well informed and ready to educate clients about their healthcare options, and together we have built a lasting trust with the community we serve.”
In addition to enrolling or re-enrolling 474 people in the Marketplace, Project Access NOW’s Premium Assistance program is paying the premiums and writing off out pocket costs for 644 community members.
Join us at our French Bistro Gala on April 13th to learn more about Premium Assistance!