Oregon hasn’t enrolled anyone through Obamacare exchange

Cover Oregon

More than a month after the launch of its Obamacare exchange, Cover Oregon has yet to enroll anyone into a government-approved health plan, despite receiving $59 million from the federal government to assist with implementation of the law:

Despite grand ambitions, an early start, millions of dollars from the federal government and a tech-savvy population, Oregon’s online enrollment system still isn’t ready more than a month after it was supposed to go live. The state has resorted to hiring or reassigning 400 people to process insurance applications by hand.

“We’re all surprised and frustrated that we’re in the position that we’re in now,” said Jesse O’Brien, a health care advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which lobbied for the exchange.

The state has received about 18,000 paper applications, at 19 pages each, and is scrambling to manually file and clear them. State officials have not been able to say when they expect the online system to launch, nor have they established a deadline to submit paper applications in order for coverage to begin Jan. 1. Meanwhile, the exchange’s board is demanding answers from the executive director about when the website will work and how his team will get people enrolled on time.

Oregon delayed its exchange website until mid-October so they could look for potential problems that customers may experience and debug them before launch. Though officials working to implement the law in the state received $59 million from the federal government, they’re experiencing a $16 million shortfall.

The Obama Administration estimated that Oregon would enroll 16,590 people in October, the first month of open enrollment, and 237,000 by the time the open enrollment period ends on March 31, 2014. The administration predicted that it needs 7 million people, including 2.7 million young and healthy people, to enroll nationally to make the law work.

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