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System glitches push back Cover Oregon enrollment

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Oct 01 2013 08:30:40 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with local insurance agents about Cover Oregon's enrollment delay, and what Oregonians should be doing now.

BEND, Ore. -

You've been hearing the hype for months.

A big countdown to Tuesday, when Cover Oregon, the state's online insurance marketplace under Obamacare, was supposed to go live. It did -- but not totally.

Glitches in the online system have pushed back the enrollment date, but are expected to be resolved by this weekend.

"It's a little bit frustrating," said one of the marketplace's mandated insurance agents, Christine Akenson with High Desert Insurance. "We didn't find out until late (Monday) night that we wouldn't be able to show people what they're looking at, or complete applications."

Insurance salesman Bill McCadden with John Altman Insurance said the setback isn't ideal.

"They expected to roll out a Mercedes-Benz, and instead they've come out and said, 'You know, we're going to be happy to get a Chevy out,'" McCadden said.

However, McCadden added that the marketplace expected to deal with some kinks, as have counterparts around the country. He said Oregon's health exchange is much further along than many other states' plans.

Cover Oregon officials said in a news release out-of pocket costs won't be available until later in October.

"The big problem right now is the tax credits," McCadden said.  "Being able to process exactly what the government's going to step forward and offer, as far as tax credits go. So we can give you plan numbers, but without having the tax credit numbers, it doesn't really make sense to move forward."

McCadden's best advice? Don't panic, don't rush, and research your options.

"You have until the end of the year to put this into place, and no insurance will start until January 1st," he said.

High Desert Insurance office Manager Christine Akenson said she is booked nearly every day with customers wanting help with Cover Oregon.

"Right now, there's a lot of confusion, there's a lot of information -- people don't really completely understand," Akenson said.

Akenson said people who eventually will enroll in Cover Oregon should find out which plans their doctors will be working with.

Cover Oregon officials say agents should be able to start enrolling people by this weekend; however, if you want to enroll yourself online, McCadden said you might have to wait until at least November.

And those who believe they have a grasp on the complex process are still divided about its value.

Yvone Fuqua wrote on NewsChannel 21's Facebook page: "It will give me insurance, and I need it as a four-year breast cancer survivor. So I am happy that I will be able to afford insurance."

Heather Stinnett shared: "This is not cheaper insurance at all, people. Sorry, but you should not be made to do something. To be punished and taxed for having no insurance is ridiculous."

But if you want to avoid that penalty, you must enroll by the end of March.

And you need to enroll by Dec. 15th if you want your coverage to begin by the first of the coming year.

More information can be found at http://www.coveroregon.com and KTVZ.COM's Health Care Reform page.

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