More than seven weeks after launch, Oregon’s online health insurance exchange Cover Oregon still hasn’t enrolled one person, surprising out-of-state onlookers who would have voted Oregon “most likely to succeed.” An Associated Press story puts it this way:
“With all the problems facing the rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, nowhere is the situation worse or more surprising than in Oregon, a progressive state that has enthusiastically embraced the federal law but has so far failed to enroll a single person in coverage through the state’s insurance exchange.”
The Oregonian has reported on numerous reasons for the delays, including last-minute federal rulemaking that set back Oregon’s website programming. Even so, Oregon received $245 million in federal money to build its online exchange, only to be processing 18,000 paper applications by hand three weeks into November.
It’s safe to say that dysfunction on this level would not be tolerated anywhere outside government: Imagine if your financial institutions were offline and nonresponsive for two months. The stunning failures of Cover Oregon and the federal website Healthcare.gov illustrate graphically how handing government vast control over important aspects of our personal and family lives results in even more loss of personal freedom than was foreseen when the Affordable Care Act was passed. Incompetence without accountability will have real consequences for those who, through no fault of their own, may find themselves without insurance on January 1.
Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.