NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Oregon Health Plan: A "Bold Experiment" that Failed

September 20, 2010

The Oregon Health Plan has been called a "bold experiment" designed to expand health insurance to Oregon's low income residents.  It sought simultaneously to expand coverage, control costs and foster provider participation.  However the plan has produced results that are not significantly different from the outcomes seen by the United States as a whole, says Eric Fruits, president of Oregon-based consulting firm Economics International Corp. and adjunct professor at Portland State University.


  • Over the life of the plan, the share of uninsured in Oregon has not been significantly different from the rest of the United States for any sustained period of time.
  • Similarly, over time, Oregon's share of the population covered by Medicaid is virtually no different from the rest of the country.


  • Total Medicaid expenditures and Medicaid expenditures per enrollee have closely tracked U.S. expenditures.
  • This indicates that the Oregon Health Plan has not been any more or less successful than the United States as a whole in controlling costs.

Initial hopes for broad participation by providers have been dashed by the pullout of larger managed care providers and a shrinking pool of providers willing to accept Oregon Health Plan enrollees as new patients, says Fruits.

Source: Erik Fruits with Andrew Hillard and Laura Lewis, "The Oregon Health Plan: A 'Bold Experiment' that Failed," Cascade Policy Institute, September 2010.

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