Oregon to Delay Insurance Exchange Enrollment

Although healthcare insurance exchange (HIE) enrollment is intended for October 1 of this year, residents of Oregon will have to wait a bit longer to do it themselves.

Although healthcare insurance exchange (HIE) enrollment is intended for October 1 of this year, residents of Oregon will have to wait a bit longer to do it themselves. State legislators have requested that Oregon HIE enrollees use an insurance broker, or other community partner, to register for the exchanges when they go live nationally in a few months. Cover Oregon, the organization assisting HIE state enrollees, says the delay is due to worries surrounding the capacity and technology of the exchange.

“It’s not uncommon for technology projects of this importance to launch in phases,” Triz delaRosa, chief operating officer of Cover Oregon, said in a press release. “We’re opening on time with all of the planned features for individuals and small businesses. And, by launching through our network of trained agents and community partners, we can correct bugs, fine-tune the process and ensure the shopping experience is easy and seamless now and into the future.”

Aaron Karjala, chief information officer at Cover Oregon, said the delay is not about IT capacity, but rather concern as to whether the HIE call centers will handle the volumes of people seeking care on the new exchange.

"The largest choke point and the biggest constraint is the limited number of people in the call center," Karjala said. "People might need a lot of help" when they try to enroll, "which could mean fairly long calls."

Cover Oregon spokesperson, Lisa Morawski, suggested the delay is intended to prevent the system from becoming overloaded in the first few weeks. "This approach will give Cover Oregon the ability to iron out the technology, customer service and other internal processes during the first few weeks of October before consumers begin applying on their own," Morawski said.

Oregon state legislators want HIE implementation to have a positive initial reception rate. Like many other state representatives, they assume there will be a variety of kinks in the exchange’s first few weeks.

"This seems to be a pretty prudent move on Oregon's part, said Joe Antos, a health policy expert from the American Enterprise Institute.

Around the Web

Cover Oregon Announces Launch Plan for October [Cover Oregon]

Cover Oregon to Fully Launch Health Insurance Marketplace Later than Expected [Oregon Live]

Oregon Delays Wide Access to Obamacare Insurance Exchange [Reuters]