Plenty of Oregonians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online

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by Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

It’s not only the national Affordable Care Act insurance exchange that’s experiencing a host of problems.

Oregon, despite setting up its own state exchange for Obamacare insurance, has yet to enroll anyone through its online website for health insurance.

Maybe the state bit off more than it could chew.

ZERO ENROLLED: No one has been enrolled through Oregon’s online health exchange yet. But the call center is fielding thousands interested in Obamacare.

The online exchange, Cover Oregon, launched Oct. 1. Oregonians can browse for health insurance, but they can’t enroll online although it appears many want to. Since opening earlier this month, the website has received 430,000 visits and 3.7 million page views.

In the past week, the system has seen 100,000 visits to and more than 5,000 calls to 1-855-CoverOR, website spokeswoman Ariane Holm told Northwest Watchdog. Since the beginning of October, they’ve had 17,200 calls.

“October 1 was just a starting point,” she added. “We intend to enroll every Oregonian who applies by Dec. 15 and wishes to get health insurance through Cover Oregon, whether they apply online or through a paper application, so that they get the coverage they need starting Jan. 1, 2014.”

The lack of enrollees in Oregon comes as the state’s neighbor, Washington, has already signed up 35,000 in three weeks. It’s important to note 31,000 of those people enrolled in Medicaid, with only 4,500 signing up for private insurance. This is largely due to an expansion of the Medicaid program taking effect in 2014, according to the Seattle Times.

Cover Oregon officials told the Oregonian the reasons for the delay range from Oregon having higher standards than other states to new federal rules.

Holm said she anticipates Cover Oregon’s website  will be fully functional by the end of October. She also said residents can download an application and mail it back in or file it electronically. Or they can call Cover Oregon to start the application process.

Holm said the agency has received some paper applications and officials are processing them. She expects to have a count on how many enrolled the old fashioned way by the end of the week.

While it’s clear the national site for the ACA has some major issues, with President Barack Obama admitting the website’s issues on Monday, states have experienced varied success. Delaware joins Oregon in struggles. It took a woman there 11 days to sign up — and she was the first.

Despite the website glitches, Oregon has cut its uninsured by 10 percent in the past few weeks with enrollment through Medicaid. Obama was quick to highlight that as a success of Obamacare, saying it’s working in Oregon.

Even though it’s not.

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected]

Northwest Watchdog is a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity