Where Oregon ranks for the uninsured

PORTLAND, Ore. -- When it comes to residents lacking health insurance, Oregon is right in the middle.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, an average of 600,000 Oregonians were uninsured for the three-year period from 2009 to 2011, or a little under 16 percent of the population. That means the state ranks right at the average for the U.S.

Massachusetts has by far the lowest percentage of uninsured residents, at about 4 percent, while Texas has the highest, at almost 25 percent.

Massachusetts launched into health reform well ahead of the rest of the nation in 2006. Then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed what is known as "Romneycare" into law, mandating that nearly every state resident obtain a minimum level of health insurance and providing free coverage for residents earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Other states in the single digits for uninsured: Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. The only states that come close to Texas for percentage of uninsured are Florida, New Mexico and Nevada.

Texas isn’t likely to make a dent in its uninsured any time soon. Gov. Rick Perry told federal officials that Texas has no intention of expanding Medicaid or establishing a health insurance exchange, two major provisions of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul. He called both provisions “brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state.”

The percentage of uninsured in Oregon has dropped since the time period covered in the Census report. According to the Oregon Health Authority, 550,000 Oregonians are currently uninsured. That number is expected to drop to 360,000 next year and 170,000 in 2016, when a projected 5 percent of the state population will be uninsured.

Those changes will be due in large part to the Medicaid expansion, as the percentage of those on the Oregon Health Plan grows from 19 percent today to a projected 28 percent in 2016.

Altogether, 30 million Americans lack health insurance.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.