Disasterous numbers: Oregon, California Health Exchanges

Oregon-tax-newsby Oregon Tax News,

Nearly a month into Oregon’s Health Care Exchange and it is still not working and facing painful delays. The website’s failure is a gross  disappointment despite the project’s spending over $82 million in taxpayer dollars. This is made even worse knowing the fact that Oregon was awarded the third largest federal grant to build the exchange.  Determining eligibility seems to be the biggest problem for the process. To deal with the delay, Michael Cox of Cover Oregon, says you can still apply using low-tech traditional means. Cox states, “What you can do is submit a traditional application either through paper or electronic fillable PDF, and that’s really an application where we’re going to take and then manually determine your eligibility for plans.”

As of 10/7, Oregon has processed 1,300 applications but reports zero completed enrollments. As of 10/12 California has processed 16,311 applications but reports none actually enrolled or unknown. Keep in mind California has 38 million people with an estimated 7 million uninsured.  California needs to over-perform against other states since it by percentage is in the top uninsured percent-population states in the nation according to the California Health Care Foundation.   Nevada has processed 6,300 applications with 1,700 enrolled.  The biggest success story to come out of the NW, and the nation, is the State of Washington.  Washington has been more successful with 46,000 applications and 24,000 enrolled reported as of last week.

In total, the federal government has spent more than a half billion on this project. Some forecast using GAO estimates that may cost $2 billion to run the exchanges in 2014. Not only is the project expensive but it was built with several no-bid contracting.  With no-bid contracting you lose transparency and accountability which often results in flawed government projects where taxpayers pick up the bill.  The results nationwide are so disastrous that Consumer Reports has advised members to avoid the website for another month.