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Pandemic-related job losses have increased the number of Oregonians eligible for help paying for health insurance. The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace estimates thousands of Oregonians may be newly eligible.

In recent years, Oregon had made great strides in reducing the uninsured rate. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 94 percent of all Oregonians had health coverage. Since the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Oregonians either have lost their job or have experienced a loss in income. As a result, these Oregonians may be newly eligible for financial help to purchase health insurance.

Insurance agents and community partner organizations throughout the state are available to help with applying for financial assistance and choosing private plans. Consumers can also browse plans and find out how much savings they are eligible for by going to OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop.

Oregonians who do not get health insurance through their job or a program such as the Oregon Health Plan or Medicare may qualify for help paying for 2021 coverage at OregonHealthCare.gov. Even if people are temporarily uninsured, they can sign up for help by the Dec. 15 deadline to get health insurance for next year.

“A pandemic is no time to go without health insurance and the essential health benefits that come with it,” said Chiqui Flowers, administrator of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. “You can get help paying for health insurance based on your income. Don’t assume you make too much to be eligible.”

Individuals making $51,040 or less per year, and families of four making $104,800 or less, may get help paying for coverage. In 2020, more than seven in 10 Oregonians who chose plans through HealthCare.gov got financial help for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. These savings lowered the average premium to just $145 per month.

To apply, go to OregonHealthCare.gov before Dec. 15 and answer a few Oregon-specific questions to get to the right application. Or they can search the “get help” directory on the site to find an insurance agent or community partner organization who can help them complete the application and enroll. Insurance agents and community partners provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge to the client. This help is available virtually and over the phone, and in person following safety protocols.

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