OHIM receives grant to modernize webtools and outreach efforts

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace (OHIM) of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will invest $500,000 in awarded American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to modernize its consumer webtools, expand outreach to those uninsured, and ensure equity in the insurance marketplace. 

 

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The funding is part of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) $20 million grant to 21 state marketplaces to update systems, programs, and technology to ensure the marketplaces are compliant with federal requirements. Other states who received this grant include Virginia and Washington. 

With the funds, OHIM plans to expand their drug formulary and provider search features. These new features will give patients a better understanding of what their insurance covers. 

Amy Coven, communication strategist at OHIM, says these investments will make it easier for Oregonians to see what providers are in their network and what out-of-pocket costs certain drugs will require under a certain plan. 

“Folks only have to put in a few different pieces of information, and it will give them an estimate of how much their costs will be for the year based on how they gauge their health status. The prescription coverage will be factored into that estimated cost so that they can see not only their premiums or estimated costs for copays, but also factoring in their monthly drug costs, which is just invaluable.”

The funds will also be used to help serve underprivileged communities and reduce barriers to accessing health insurance in Oregon. According to OHA, Oregon has a 6% uninsured rate with Black, Hispanic, and Asian communities experiencing larger gaps in health insurance coverage than White communities. 

OHIM plans to invest these funds to fully translate their webtools into Spanish, and invest in outreach to spread information on Marketplace eligibility, especially to Latinx communities. 

Coven says these funds will help expand OHIM’s Marketplace outreach team, which aims to provide cultural, bilingual outreach to uninsured communities to provide assistance in getting them covered. 

“What we are really looking at doing is enhancing the services [the program] provide[s] to be able to cast a wider net focusing on the vulnerable populations of Oregon like the rural areas. We really want to make sure that we have folks there that have built trust with those communities.”

The funding will continue to expand their current outreach teams and marketing efforts to include more languages and to permeate into more communities. Coven says:

“We are really looking at centering everything around equity and really making sure our messages resonate with all of the different audiences within Oregon. A lot of what we are trying to do is just enhance our messages and translate our materials into more languages throughout all of our campaign.”