Yes; the roll out of Cover Oregon has been a failure. Yes; they had years to prepare and spent over $75 million to develop the web site. Yes; there are deadlines (which actually effect very few people who have junk insurance) and the media freak out will elevate as they get closer. Yes; the web site is still not functioning and no one knows when it will work.
UPDATE – 40 days later (12/22/2013) and there’s no improvement to the Cover Oregon web site or offline process. Yes Rocky King is on “sick leave” but hasn’t been sacked. Yes Bruce Goldberg has “taken over” but at best he’s a doctor and not a IT process engineer so he just gets in the way; Kitz put him in charge of “paper applications”. No, Oracle hasn’t been held accountable by bureaucrats, politicians or the media. No Greg Van Pelt didn’t stay long. Yes CIO of the Oregon Health Authority Carolyn Lawson was allowed to resign, still barking she did the right thing. Yes they bought a fax machine and hired a bunch of people to process “paper applications”.
What they proved is that as a healthcare insurance purchaser YOU will need to be vigilant about your paperwork and process for the first year or so of the ACA. We STRONGLY suggest you dedicate a file folder or writing pad or diary to getting yourself signed up. Keep track of the time, date and content of mailing. Get the name and phone number of people at the Oregon Health Authority you talk with. Skip talking to the “health care navigators” supposedly trained prior to roll-out. What seems to be working best is to call the main help line at 1-855-268-3767 to get answers.
Question – Are you eligible?
Answer – Find out. Eligibility information has been online for several months. Quick and dirty – if you earn under $15,000 per year you will be eligible for the Oregon Health Plan and pay $0 for your medical, dental and optical insurance. This is new.
Question – Which plan(s) are you eligible for?
Answer – There are a handful of plans available, but not all to everyone. Availability depends on your income and where you live. Answer eight questions online and you’ll know which plans are available for you. Details? Costs? They’re all online too.
Question – Do you currently earn UNDER $15,000 per year?
Question – Do you currently earn OVER $15,000 per year?
Answer – Apply for private insurance through Cover Oregon. Quick and dirty – if you’re 30, live in Portland, don’t smoke and earn $30,000 per year Kaiser has a great $0 deductible plan for $290 per month / $3600 per year. Today for medical only this plan is about $400.
You can fill out either PDF application now and submit it for consideration. Insurance should start January 1.
Read the instructions and fill out the PDF application.
You can fill out the PDF online and submit it online. But we found it was easier to download the PDF and fill it out offline and over time. AND, we mailed our application with a USPS Priority mail to be certain it was delivered, about $5. Stupidly, Cover Oregon doesn’t have an email address set up to send finished PDF applications. So you need to print it and send by mail.
Mail your finished application to:
P.O. Box 14520
Salem, OR 97309-5044
Need help? A Cover Oregon certified insurance agent or community partner who can help you fill out your application. Help is free. You can also call and get help 1-855-268-3767)/TTY 711, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM. Don’t let the media freak you out – initial enrollment is open to everyone without current insurance until March 1, 2014.
Question – Does submitting an application mean you get health insurance?
Answer – No. And the rest of the answer isn’t apparent on the Cover Oregon web site. If you’re buying insurance through Cover Oregon, you’ll need to sign an insurance contract. If you’re starting with the Oregon Health Plan, they’ll need further information from you about past care – at minimum. Sit tight, they’ll get in touch with you. Anxious? Need more information? Give Cover Oregon a call and talk with a real person – not a web site.