Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Dire scenario involves the state being swept by massive layoffs pushing the jobless rate to 25%.

Depending on the severity of the economic crisis induced by coronavirus, as many as 430,000 Oregonians could lose their employer-sponsored health plans in coming months, and most of those people — 320,000 — would turn to the Oregon Health Plan, the state's version of Medicaid for low-income residents, a new report forecasts.

That dire scenario involves the state being swept by massive layoffs pushing the jobless rate to 25%, according to an analysis by Health Management Associates, a consulting firm focused on health care.

Even under the most benign of three scenarios in the report — the Oregon jobless rate would rise to 10% from its current 3.3% — some 145,000 people would lose their employer-sponsored health coverage. The report estimates about 149,000 people would sign up for Medicaid under that scenario.

Even in that moderate economic-impact scenario, the increased financial pressure on the Oregon Health Plan would be huge. The state, using federal and state money, spends about $6,000 a year insuring each of its 1 million Oregon Health Plan members. An extra 149,000 members could cost the government about $900 million a year. An extra 320,000 members would cost $1.9 billion a year.

The study's release came on the heels of an analysis by The Lund Report on the impact job losses are likely to have on the Oregon Health Plan in Oregon, which now serves one in four residents.

The study by Health Management Associates, based in Michigan with an office in Portland, looks at the impact on rising unemployment on Medicaid in Oregon and every other state. It appears to be the first publicly released study with a state-by-state analysis of what Medicaid programs in each state could face.

This Lund Report story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.


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