Oregonians Enter Lottery for Health Insurance

Coverage will extend to small fraction of state's 600K uninsured
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2008 1:30 PM CST
Shirley Krueger, who suffers from diabetes, stands in the door of her apartment in Salem, Ore., Feb. 27, 2008. Krueger, who works part time, signed up on the first day in a one-of-a-kind state lottery...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Oregonians are flocking to sign up for a state-sponsored lottery with a high-stakes prize: health insurance. The state will begin drawing names this week to award health insurance plans to uninsured residents, the AP reports. More than 83,000 have signed up since January to have a shot at about 3,000 openings.

Some 600,000 Oregonians are uninsured. The Oregon Health Plan covered 132,000 residents in 1995, but financial constraints forced it to stop accepting new applicants in 2004. The state opened the slots available in the lottery by leveraging medical provider taxes with federal matching funds. Oregon’s budget still lacks the resources to expand the program any further—thus the lottery.