Oregon health insurance exchange
Enrollment delays on Cover Oregon
By Carla Anderson
November 6, 2013
Consumers could browse the Cover Oregon website on Oct. 1, but technical issues prevented actual enrollment. The month of October was fraught with difficulties for the site, and five weeks into open enrollment the state had yet to enroll anyone using the online system. As of the beginning of November, Cover Oregon is using paper applications instead. Enrollees who want to wait until the online system is working can enter their email address on the website and receive an email notification when online enrollment is possible. There are concerns that the website is not determining subsidy eligibility correctly, especially in complicated cases. As a result, workers are manually reviewing applications to make sure that accurate subsidy determinations are being made.
Cover Oregon previously announced a delay in direct consumer access to the marketplace website. Initially, individuals and small businesses need to work with an insurance agent or community partner to apply for coverage online. Officials say direct consumer access will begin before the end of October.
The Oregon legislature authorized a state-run health insurance exchange in 2011, and the exchange developed a formal business plan, which the Legislature approved in February 2012 as a final go-ahead for the exchange. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave conditional approval to Cover Oregon in December 2012. The exchange has a 2014 budget of $105.7 million, which will be covered with federal grant money, and $62.4 million budget in 2015 according to a Cover Oregon spokesperson.
Cover Oregon is overseen by a nine-member board of directors, two of which are non-voting members. The board receives input from the Individual and Employer Consumer Advisory Committee. The 19-member committee holds monthly meetings, which are open to the public. The Consumer Advisory Committee was mandated by the legislation that established the state’s exchange. Committee members are selected by the board and must include individuals or employers who will use the exchange, individuals who will enroll in state medical assistance through the exchange, minority groups, and representatives of organizations that will people purchase insurance through the exchange. All geographic areas of the state must be represented.
Cover Oregon is acting as “active purchaser,” meaning it limits the number of health insurers that can participate in the exchange. Participating insurers are required to offer a bronze, silver and gold plan and have the option to offer additional plans.
In July, the Oregon Department of Insurance approved rates for insurance policies that will be offered through Cover Oregon. Individuals can choose from among 110 options from 11 carriers, while small groups will have 73 options from eight carriers.
According to Kaiser’s State Health Facts, about 17 percent of Oregon’s under-65 population is uninsured. Cover Oregon officials expect about 237,000 people to purchase health insurance through the exchange in 2014.
Contact the Oregon exchange
More Oregon health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: Oregon
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Oregon’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.