The open enrollment period for 2018 health insurance coverage through the federal government was half the duration of the previous year’s sign-up period, but Oregon’s enrollment total was the state’s highest ever.
According to federal records, 156,105 Oregonians chose health insurance plans at HealthCare.gov during the open enrollment period that ended Dec. 15; 155,430 signed up in 2017.
North East Oregon Network helped publicize the enrollment deadline and gave one-on-one enrollment guidance to consumers.
Wallowa County’s representative Vixen Radford-Wecks said that a lot of confusion remained for persons seeking insurance.
“Survey’s done for Oregon Marketplace showed that there is still confusion about terminology, for instance one man came in wondering where he could apply for ‘Obama Care’ (a term that is now out-of-favor) and did not understand what ‘open enrollment’ meant,” Radford-Wecks said. “Another finding was that people thought it was very important to have community health workers helping understand the process and help with filling out the forms,” said Radford-Wecks.“
NEON also reported an increase in private insurance rates and frustration over lack of choice; there are only two private providers in Northeast Oregon: Providence and MODA.
“We saw an increase in the number of people asking about the Christian Health Coverage co-ops in our area,” Radford-Wecks said.
There are three such co-ops in operation in Wallowa County. They are not health insurance, and each operate differently with criteria including religious faith. They do not have to meet the same criteria as qualified health plans, but they do allow people to avoid the tax penalties.