Oregon exchange grapples with disastrous launch

Following reports that Oregon’s problem-plagued Obamacare website failed to enroll a single person in its first month, the exchange announced Thursday that officials would process paper and electronic applications while the online system is fixed.

Like the federal site, the state-run Cover Oregon website has been riddled with technical problems. Wednesday Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber told a local news station that the website fixes could take two more months.

The health-care site was open for business on Oct. 1 and with a failing website, The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the state has not been able to enroll anyone.

According to Cover Oregon, however, more than 17,000 Oregonians have applied for coverage, and the exchange is working on processing those applications.

“We encourage Oregonians to get started now with an electronic or paper application,” Howard “Rocky” King, executive director of Cover Oregon, said Thursday. “Even with our current online system challenges, we will make sure that no one gets left behind. We have committed the necessary resources to process those applications quickly.”

“We know that many people have been frustrated about not being able to enroll online. We are frustrated too,” he added.

And while the Oregon exchange grapples with its failures, the AP reports that about 150,000 residents will see their current individual coverage canceled by the end of the year due to Obamacare’s minimum coverage requirements.

If these individuals do not enroll in a new plan by Dec. 15, they could face a break in coverage, although the Obama administration granted an additional six-weeks to sign up, those who want their coverage to begin come Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15, the AP explained.

Cover Oregon said Thursday, however, that its current system will be able to enroll everyone who needs coverage by Jan. 1, 2014.

The website’s failure comes despite a multimillion-dollar media advertising campaign featuring original music and video from local artists.

In July, Cover Oregon announced its first round of production and media buys totaling $3.2 million, with a second round of advertising, at the time, expected to begin in October to push the website.



Follow Caroline on Twitter