Moving on Up: Cover Oregon Charts Enrollment Progress

During a legislative hearing on Jan. 15, Oregon Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, asked Cover Oregon Acting Director Bruce Goldberg a question that has been on many people’s minds: where is Oregon compared to other states?

Just a few weeks ago, Oregon ranked dead last in signing up people for coverage through its health-insurance exchange. Cover Oregon’s website has been unable to enroll anyone, which has forced the exchange to resort to manually processing applications.

But Oregon is no longer at the bottom of the rankings. “We’re in the middle of the pack,” Goldberg told legislators. “Our numbers are beginning to align with other numbers around the country.”

Goldberg presented updated enrollment numbers reflecting recent progress. As of mid-January, approximately 118,000 Oregonians have enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan through the state’s innovative “fast-track” process; another 42,000 have enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan through Cover Oregon.

Just over 23,000 people have enrolled in private health plans—a number that Goldberg says should continue increasing as Cover Oregon continues to smooth out the paper application process. Cover Oregon had originally projected that around 51,800 individuals would be enrolled by this month.

Goldberg noted that an additional 30,000 people have been notified that they are eligible to enroll in private coverage, but so far have not enrolled. He told legislators that it could be for a variety of reasons, including the consumer’s ability to remain on an old health plan through March.

During the hearing, Goldberg also said Cover Oregon has lowered its enrollment projections. Goldberg said Cover Oregon needs between 100,000 and 125,000 people enrolled by the end of 2015 in order to be financially self-sustaining. Federal grant money expires by the end of this year.

Cover Oregon’s original business plan estimated that at least 193,700 individuals would enroll in private plans through the exchange by the end of 2015. The new projections are that at least 161,400 individuals will enroll by then.