Oregon Health Authority Swamped with Calls About OHP Enrollment

Ellen Pinney, the state’s ombudsperson, shared that information with Health Share of Oregon’s Community Advisory Council recently.

The Oregon Health Authority is receiving thousands of calls every day about Oregon Health Plan enrollment, OHP ombudsman Ellen Pinney told Health Share of Oregon’s Community Advisory Council last week.

The day before her presentation Pinney reported that the two major Oregon Health Plan customer service lines housed in the Oregon Health Authority received 7,724 calls. Clients are calling to get their OHP identification number, learn the status of their enrollment, change plans or ask questions about how they can maintain a relationship with their existing provider. 

Despite the volume of calls with questions and concerns, Pinney emphasized that many of the 200,000 new enrollees were receiving healthcare for the first time. "Clients don't call and spend time on hold to share that they're happy about their new health plan."  

But, Pinney added, success stories from Oregon Health Plan clients can be found on the Oregon Health Authority website.

Council member Sam Chase, who is executive director of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics, said he knew some people would remain uninsured – including undocumented immigrants and those who choose not to enroll – after the Affordable Care Act's reforms kick in, and asked if the state is tracking that population.

Pinney acknowledged the value of that question, and said that, in the short term, it would be most  helpful to focus on Oregonians who had not yet replied to the fast track option.

She’d like to find a way for community partners and enrollment assisters to refocus on the fast-track option. “We need to figure out a way to keep getting information about the fast-track option out to clients, community partners and others who serve Oregon Health Plan clients. It is the single easiest way to get enrolled.” She also noted that while the enrollment period for private insurance ends this month, enrollment for Medicaid is ongoing.

Chase said his organization does have four enrollment assisters helping people sign up in the coalition's clinics, but would like to see data on how many people aren't covered.

Council member Amy Anderson mentioned that it seemed to her many young people are opting out of the enrollment process – an assumption borne out by recent data showing Oregon's exchange has fared particularly bad at attracting young enrollees (http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2014/03/cover_oregon_health_insurance_3.html#incart_river) despite an initial advertising campaign that aggressively targeted young people but was halted in December (http://www.thelundreport.org/content/cover-oregon-halts-advertising-camp...).

CEO Janet Meyer told the council prior to Pinney's presentation that Health Share is working with the state to find out who is eligible OHP but still hasn't enrolled.

HealthShare is also planning to integrate one last dental plan into its coverage options, and working with FamilyCare to coordinate non-emergency medical transportation in the areas served by both CCOs.

Meyer also commented briefly on the legislative session.

“For Health Share, we're thrilled that the durable medical equipment bill passed,” Meyer said,. Sponsored by Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, it will create a program to refurbish and loan out durable medical equipment.

Christen can be reached at [email protected]

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