Oregon: Enrolling Inmates in Obamacare


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Offering health-insurance access to Oregon inmates about to be released from prison increased their likelihood of enrollment, found a new Urban Institute Study. The Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare” widened Medicaid eligibility for participating states to low-income and childless adults. Many ex-inmates– who have high treatment needs and low incomes– fall into this new cohort of persons able to access Medicaid. The hope is that once these ex-inmates have health insurance they can receive services for substance abuse and mental health issues, possibly increasing public safety and benefits. But facilitating enrollment and usage of health insurance for inmates has been a challenge.

Urban Institute researchers studied database of 8,318 Oregon inmates released from prison between April 2010 and December 2011 and matched them to the Oregon Health Plan’s database of all the individuals statewide who registered for the chance to apply for Medicaid. They found that more than one-third of Oregon prison inmates who were released into the community registered for a chance to receive Medicaid coverage in the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) Standard program, which used a statewide lottery process to fill its limited number of program slots. Among those who were invited to apply (based on a random draw of registrants), inmates were often as likely as
the general population to apply for Medicaid.

Read the report here.

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