By Lynne Terry
Oregonians at risk for a severe COVID infection now have access to free online health care visits thanks to a new state program.
The Oregon Health Authority announced Tuesday that a California-based health care company, Color Health, will offer telehealth sessions online or on the phone to Oregonians who at risk of developing a severe COVID infection. They include people aged 65 and over and those with compromised immune systems.
The visits will be free and available to everyone, regardless of their insurance status.
To schedule a visit, go to Color.com/COVID-19-treatment-OR and take the survey or call 833-273-6330 and describe your symptoms.
The program will run through the end of December and could cost the state up to $1.2 million, according to the contract, which the Oregon Capital Chronicle obtained through a public records request. Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the health authority, said the program will serve up to 600 people a week.
The contract was signed Sept. 12. Modie said the agency waited to secure funding to launch it. Its purpose is to help Oregonians at risk for severe COVID gain access to an antiviral medication without leaving home.
“These medicines can help prevent severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and even death,” Dr. Andrea Lara, therapeutics clinical and equity lead with Oregon Health Authority, said in a statement. “They should be available for free for anyone who needs them, whether or not the person has health insurance.”
She said the program will especially benefit communities hit hardest by COVID, including tribal nations and communities of color.
The program aims to reach people who are uninsured or underinsured, Modie said. Nearly 6% of Oregonians lack health insurance.
“Many people who are underinsured or uninsured, or who are unable to access a test to treat site, have a difficult time accessing a clinician who can prescribe antiviral medications.” Modie said. “This program allows people to talk to a clinician virtually, without having to leave their home, and get a prescription right away if they qualify.”
For the complete story, see the Oregon Capital Chronicle.