Oregon health insurance exchange misses another deadline

PORTLAND — Oregon's troubled health insurance exchange has missed yet another deadline.

Officials had said the online system would be ready to use Monday for insurance agents and community groups that have contracts with Cover Oregon. But the system still isn't fully functional for them.

The missed deadline also calls into question whether the online exchange will be ready to use for the general public by Dec. 16, as officials had promised.

Because agents and community partners still can't use the online exchange front to end, they can't quickly enroll Oregonians for coverage that begins Jan. 1 before a Dec. 15 deadline.

The state has had to rely exclusively on paper applications. As a result, Cover Oregon imposed a Dec. 4 application postmark deadline for those seeking coverage starting in January.

State officials have said those who make the Dec. 4 deadline would quickly have their applications processed and receive their enrollment packets — including the tax-credit eligibility determination — early this week. They'll then have to pick an insurance plan and send their choice back to the state by Dec. 15 to enroll.

People who send in paper applications after Dec. 4 won't have insurance until February or later.

Most agents and community partners said they were not holding their breath for Monday's deadline to be met.

"Once it became apparent the website wasn't going to be functioning, we focused on the paper process," said agent Clayton Anderson of Assurety Northwest in Portland. "We could be assisting more people, but we're just doing the best we can."

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