In OR, over 91,000 people have signed up to be included in a lottery that the state is holding to fill 3,000 available slots in their state health plan. The plan is low cost (zero to $20 per month) and provides health and dental benefits to people that would otherwise be uninsured. For the 3,000 people who will get picked in the lottery, it will be a dream come true. But what about the other 88,000+ people who have entered? And the more than 500,000 additional residents who are uninsured but have not yet signed up for the lottery?
There has been some criticism that a lottery is a ridiculous way to determine who gets health insurance. But the tremendous response to the lottery should be a sign to lawmakers that something more comprehensive needs to be done to provide health insurance and health care for all residents. And at least the state is trying to provide access to health care for some uninsured residents, which is better than nothing at all.
What a sad state of affairs this is. That in the land of the free and the home of the brave we’ve reached a stage where a state with 600,000 uninsured residents is trying to find an equitable way to fill 3,000 spots in a state health insurance program. I agree that something is better than nothing and commend the OR program for taking the initiative to fill the available space in their program – some states might have found it to be less of a headache to just keep the program closed to new applicants and maintain the status quo. But it’s still sad.
In Colorado, we have nearly 800,000 people without health insurance – 17% of our population. Will we end up with a lottery too? Will we come up with a plan that will insure half of one percent of those people? Will it make any difference? States that are trying to decrease the number of uninsured residents are headed in the right direction, but the enormity of the problem in relation to the realistic scope of the potential solutions seems like trying to move the Sahara desert with a spoon. We need a comprehensive national program designed to cover everyone – not just the lucky few who get their names pulled out of a hat.