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Oregon State students, community members help Cover Oregon

cover-oregon-training-headerWhether you’re single, providing for a family or own a small business – choosing the perfect health insurance coverage can sometimes be tricky.

But there’s no need to worry – a group of Oregon State students and Corvallis community members are here to help walk you through the process with ease through Cover Oregon’s certified community partners outreach efforts.

Cover Oregon is an online healthcare marketplace where Oregonians can compare and enroll in health insurance plans that fit their needs and budget. It’s designed to make health coverage more accessible and easier to understand by allowing side-by-side comparisons of health insurance plans – as well as financial help to pay for the chosen plan.

It’s a key component to ensuring that Oregonians gain access to health insurance before the nation’s healthcare overhaul requires most Americans to obtain insurance coverage next year or pay a fine.

“We are at the forefront of a national movement to make health coverage accessible to all.”

More than 50 volunteers, mainly Public Health students, gathered on Oregon State’s campus in October to complete extensive training – led by MPH alum and Oregon Health Authority’s Cover Oregon Community Engagement Coordinator Antonio Torres – to become a certified enrollment assister for Cover Oregon.

“It is great and important that OSU students and community members are willing to participate because there is a huge need in the community,” Antonio says. “And to see that public health students are putting into practice what they learned in school is exciting. They can provide additional information and debunk   myths that currently exist in the community.”

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MPH alum and Oregon Health Authority’s Cover Oregon Community Engagement Coordinator Antonio Torres leads a training for more than 50 volunteers to become certified enrollment assisters for Cover Oregon.

Antonio, who graduated in 2012, has been doing community work for 18 years and landed his dream job of educating and empowering communities through public health work with Cover Oregon.

“We are at the forefront of a national movement to make health coverage accessible to all,” he says.

As part of his new position and mission to help others, he taught volunteers the ins and outs of providing enrollment assistance to uninsured Oregonians in need of help navigating the market exchange online.

“This is an opportunity for me to participate and help be part of the change in a historical event in healthcare,” says Public Health student and Vice President of American College of Health Care Administrators Andi Vondra. “I want to help mediate and support the change for the uninsured to educate Oregonians and OSU students in the application process. Uninsured individuals are mandated by law to have health insurance; therefore I believe it is only fair to give them support and aid in going about the process since it can be daunting for anyone.”

“I want to help citizens become insured because, to be honest, it can be a confusing process,” says Public Health senior and Society of Healthcare Executives Student Chapter President Emily Chupp. “Luckily, I have had the opportunity to learn about insurance, Cover Oregon and the new Affordable Care Act through classes. I look forward to answering the questions of others and helping them become more comfortable with the idea of health insurance.”

“Being a part of this amazing group of students who are willing to give up their day to educate themselves for the welfare of others makes me feel incredibly proud to be a part of this university.”

In addition to the training enabling volunteers to assist in the enrollment process and at outreach and education events on campus and in Benton and Linn counties, students in Clinical Associate Professor Karen Volmar’s healthcare marketing course also are developing two marketing plans that will guide the students’ events.

“One group is developing an outreach plan for the Benton and Linn County Health departments and the second group is developing a plan for Oregon State University,” Karen says. “Student Health Services’ last survey showed that 18 percent of OSU students are uninsured, and many students who are currently on their parents’ health insurance plans will find themselves uninsured in the next few years – so they also would benefit from information about Cover Oregon for when they become uninsured.”

Karen says she anticipates students will be involved in developing and distributing marketing materials with the health departments, Oregon State Extension offices and Student Health Services, as well as organizing several enrollment events.

“Being a part of this amazing group of students who are willing to give up their day to educate themselves for the welfare of others makes me feel incredibly proud to be a part of this university,” Emily says. “We have an amazing, selfless community here!”