Oregon Insurance Marketplace Turns Back to Paper
While the federal government works around the clock to fix glitches to the beleaguered health insurance exchanges website, state officials in Oregon have reverted back to paper applications to handle applicant backlog.
Cover Oregon, the state-run program tasked with enrolling residents in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance exchanges, opened on schedule on October 1, but failed to enroll a single person by November 1, according to a National Public Radio report. The state of Oregon is running its own insurance marketplace instead of relying on the federal government to oversee enrollment, a decision that is supposed to have made the website launch less prone to glitches. But this has not been the case in Oregon.
A spokeswoman for Cover Oregon told NPR that while developers work to fix the website’s kinks, residents are being asked to fill out insurance applications on paper, which can be downloaded from the exchange’s website. Or users can submit their e-mail address and be alerted once the system is up and functioning again.
“We also hear from a lot of people who are really chomping at the bit to get started. And they want to send in their paper application as soon as they can. Either way is fine with us,” Cover Oregon spokeswoman Amy Fauver told public radio.
According to NPR, the paper application is 20 pages long. Once applicants fill it out and send it back, state officials read through each application to do an eligibility determination to find out whether applicants qualify for tax credits or Medicaid.
When NPR aired its story on November 4, Cover Oregon had already received 7,300 applications, and hoped to have the website functioning properly by the end of November. The Obama administration has vowed to fix the error-riddled Healthcare.gov website by November 30 so that applicants can enroll by March 31, the enrollment deadline.