Healthcare coverage has now turned into a topic of debate. It began with a family’s access to healthcare and how affordable it was. Health insurance is important not just for children but for parents as well. Children are dependent on having healthy parents to care for them. For many families the cost of healthcare is expensive and sometimes so expensive it is out of reach.
Since 2009 Oregon has become one of 12 states in the U.S. to provide healthcare coverage for all children 19 and under. Through the Healthy Kids program, insurance coverage has been expanded for over 80,000 low-income children living in Oregon. The program has been very successful in helping low-income families but it has had trouble expanding benefits for middle-class families. Only 6,000 middle income families have been accepted into the Healthy Kids program compared to the expected 34,000. This is mainly because the federal definition of living in poverty for a family of four is earning $22,050 or less in a year. Some families were paying up to $475 a month per child without assistance because of this definition. Subsidies have been provided for families whose income is up to 300% higher than the poverty level, but on a sliding scale depending on income earned. Before the expansion of The Oregon Health Plan these subsidies were not an option.
As of 2014 the Oregon Health Plan is now accepting adult applicants regardless of income. For families without insurance this will be a relief. Working Families has also managed to push through legislation in Multnomah County that will allow workers to earn pay if they are sick or are taking care of their children who are sick. This is another big win for families with children. The cost of being ill or having medical emergencies can be extremely expensive, especially here in the United States. Although more work needs to be done improving the quality of medical care, access to health insurance is slowly being resolved. However, the cost for families with private insurance still remains an issue.
So how can middle-class families receive extra assistance? Should the federal poverty guidelines be raised? Should middle class families be eligible for more subsidies? How has the expansion of The Oregon Health Plan and Healthy Kids affected you? Should other states follow Oregon’s healthcare model?
Here are some links with resources to health clinics in the Portland Area and more information on Portland’s Sick Leave Ordinance.