Oregon’s health insurance exchange, operated through the Cover Oregon website, has had arguably one of the worst rollouts among state-run marketplaces in the country. Despite receiving millions of dollars in government funding and getting an earlier start than many other health insurance exchanges, the website has been a mess since its launch on Oct. 1. Even after three and a half months, not even one person has been able to enroll using the website.
Cover Oregon eventually ended up hiring over 500 temporary workers tasked with processing paper applications so that Oregon residents could still enroll. Because so many applications are now being processed by hand, many applicants are finding themselves in processing limbo. The paper process has also led to mistakes that lengthen processing times even more.
One family that’s suffering from Cover Oregon’s mismanagement involves a mother and her three young children. After seeking coverage for her entire family using one application, she later found out that only her oldest son and herself were set up to receive health insurance. The two youngest children in her family were not insured.
A spokesperson from Cover Oregon stated that eligibility for coverage is determined independently, even if a family uses one application to apply. The problem likely stemmed from the addresses listed on the family’s paperwork. The woman’s two younger sons had a different address listed on the application, which led to them not receiving coverage. The spokesperson said that the woman’s case is being re-examined, and a plan is being sought that will cover her entire family.
Cover Oregon will need to repair its sluggish and broken system quickly, as situations such as these can often lead to civil claims. Currently, Oregon is the third worst in the country among states that use their own exchanges instead of the national site. It might only be a matter of time before the botched rollout leads to legal disputes.
Source: KATU, “Family struggles to sign up for insurance through Cover Oregon” Chelsea Kopta, Jan. 14, 2014