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Short Open Enrollment Window for Health Coverage Begins

More than 70 percent of Oregonians who bought private plans through through the federal health-care marketplace last year received financial assistance. (gigibunny/Twenty20)
More than 70 percent of Oregonians who bought private plans through through the federal health-care marketplace last year received financial assistance. (gigibunny/Twenty20)
November 2, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregonians who don't have coverage through their employer have six weeks to sign up for health insurance. The open enrollment period began November 1 and runs through December 15.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is helping people find out where to apply and whether they might be eligible for financial assistance. It can also point people to local, in-person help.

Elizabeth Cronen, communication and legislative manager with the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, says people should check their income eligibility, because getting that subsidy can bring down premiums.

"Last year in Oregon, more than 70 percent of Oregonians who bought private plans through 'Healthcare.gov' got financial assistance,” says Cronen. “They didn't pay the sticker price for their coverage; they paid less than that."

People who aren't covered through their workplace could qualify for subsidies. For example, individuals making less than $48,560 a year and families of four making less than $104,000 are eligible.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace can also guide people who are enrolling in the Oregon Health Plan, the state's version of Medicaid.

Cronen says people should act soon, because the open enrollment window is short and it's difficult to apply once this window closes.

"What that means is that after the deadline passes, you're going to have to a 'qualifying event' in order to be able to buy a private health insurance plan,” says Cronen. “That would be a major life event, like getting married, having a baby or losing your other coverage."

In recent years, the federal government has scaled back outreach and advertising for its healthcare marketplace, and slashed funding for community groups that help people enroll. But Cronen says these cuts aren't affecting Oregon, because the state has its own programs that do this work.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR