Pick insurance plan by 5 p.m. today

By Lauren Dake The Bulletin
Published Dec 27, 2013 at 12:01AM / Updated Jan 21, 2014 at 12:46PM

Insurance options

If your application reached Cover Oregon by Dec. 4:

You have until 5 p.m. today to choose a subsidized health plan that will start the first of the year. If you need help, contact a certified insurance agent or community partner, neither of whom should charge. Find more information and a list of partners at www.cover oregon.com.

If you don’t have insurance today, but need coverage before the first of the year:

These companies are still accepting enrollments, however, you would not qualify for a tax break:

• Dec. 27: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest

• Dec. 29: Oregon’s Health CO-OP

• Dec. 31: Health Republic Insurance Co., LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, Moda Health Plan and PacificSource Health Plans, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon

All plan purchases or changes must happen by March 31.

If you are in the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, the state’s high-risk pool:

You will be moved to a temporary insurance program to ensure no gap in coverage.

Find information at: www.oregon.gov/oha/OPHP/TMIP/Pages/ default.aspx. Call 1-800-848-7280.

If you are already insured:

You can keep the same plan you currently have. Companies who don’t hear from individuals will automatically enroll them in a new 2014 plan.

Helpful numbers:

Oregon insurance advocates: 888-877-4894

Cover Oregon: 855-268-3767

Source: Cover Oregon

SALEM — When it comes to the state’s troubled health insurance exchange, there have been several deadlines.

But today’s is crucial.

By 5 p.m., individuals whose applications have been processed by Cover Oregon must pick a plan. Oregonians who met the Dec. 4 deadline and handed in a complete application to the state’s health exchange are eligible. Cover Oregon officials said they will continue to process applications up until this evening to reach individuals.

Cox said he’s still confident that the majority of people who met the early December deadline will be enrolled.

“We’re still calling people who are eligible to buy private insurance to try and get them on the phone and enroll them over the phone,” Cox said.

But for those who believe they qualify for Jan. 1 coverage and haven’t heard from Cover Oregon officials, it’s best to enroll with the help of a certified insurance agent or community partner. Once a plan is picked, insurance companies must receive the first payment by Jan. 15.

Cover Oregon officials said more than 12,000 people as of Wednesday had been enrolled in private insurance, with 24,000 enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan. Those who qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid, are automatically enrolled. They do not need to pick a plan or take any further steps.

For those who are worried about a gap in coverage and missed the deadline or have yet to hear from the state’s exchange, it’s best to go directly to a private insurance carrier.

Cover Oregon’s call center — 855-268-3767 — will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Several months after the state’s health insurance exchange was scheduled to launch, its website still does not fully function. The state hired hundreds of people and has been forced to rely on processing paper applications.

In addition to pushed deadlines, the man charged with overseeing Cover Oregon, Rocky King, has taken medical leave and the woman who oversaw the technological development of the exchange, Carolyn Lawson, has resigned. The exchange has also pulled the plug on its much-touted advertising campaigns.

The state is withholding millions from Oracle Corp., the company hired to build the website. And Gov. John Kitzhaber, who not long ago guaranteed everyone who wanted coverage by Jan. 1 and met the appropriate deadlines would have it, is now calling for an independent review of what went wrong.

— Reporter, 541-554-1162, ldake@bendbulletin.com

This article has been corrected. The deadline by which to enroll in Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon for coverage beginning Jan. 1 was incorrect due to incorrect information provided to The Bulletin and the phone number published in the original version was incorrect. The Bulletin regrets the error.