Over 80,000 Oregonians will have to make their way through HealthCare.gov to sign up for Obamacare coverage again next year after the state-run exchange collapsed on its first try and opted to join the federal exchange instead.
Oregon gave up on fixing its state-run Obamacare website in late April, when state and federal officials concluded state officials weren’t capable of repairing the exchange. (RELATED: Oregon to drop its disastrous Obamacare exchange, join HealthCare.gov)
At the time, it wasn’t clear whether Oregon customers who purchased private insurance — all of whom signed up via paper applications due to the nonfunctional website — would have to re-enroll through HealthCare.gov in 2015. Medicaid sign-ups will not have to register again.
“Regardless of the technology transition, current consumers enrolled in private plans would have needed to re-enroll in the fall anyway (think how employer-sponsored coverage works — you re-enroll each year),” Cover Oregon spokeswoman Ariane Holm told The Daily Caller. But a yearly renewal process is much different than navigating HealthCare.gov, which is still faced with glitches and verification problems. (RELATED: Worse Than They Thought: House Confirms HALF Of All Obamacare Applications Flawed)
On top of consumers braving the infamous HealthCare.gov website, Oregon’s Obamacare insurance companies will have to update their own technology to work with the federal government. Four insurers who offered private insurance plans with Cover Oregon don’t have compatible interfaces with HealthCare.gov.
Oregon has already used $255 million in federal taxpayer funding to attempt to create its state-run website, which is under FBI investigation over whether state officials lied to federal workers about their progress on building the website. The Wall Street Journal reports that moving Oregon’s exchange to HealthCare.gov will cost federal taxpayers another $41 million — the highest total cost of any of the most troubled state Obamacare exchanges.
Oregon received extra “early innovator” grant money from the Obama administration, which had hoped that the then-solid blue state would be one of Obamacare’s earliest successes.
“Oregon may be the White House’s favorite health exchange,” then-Washington Post reporter (now Vox explainer) Sarah Kliff wrote in May 2013.
The exchange also received notoriety after airing rainbow-themed, hipster-approved ads touting exchange coverage — despite lacking a functional website at the time.
In the end, Cover Oregon’s website failed to enroll a single person online. Officials hope to have the HealthCare.gov-version of the Obamacare exchange working by November 15, when open enrollment begins for 2015.