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Oregon reverts back to federal exchange

Health Care Reform and Policy
by David Dillon
Oregon reverts back to federal exchange after state marketplace fails
Oregon reverts back to federal exchange after state marketplace fails

Across the country, the federal health insurance exchange website drew a lot of ire in the first several months of its operation. However, after a massive effort to overhaul its internal workings, it is now ready to handle expected traffic levels. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for a few of the sites run solely by state governments.

The latest news from these sites is that Oregon's version of the marketplace is now going to be shut down by the state's government, according to a report from MSNBC. The vote to close the Cover Oregon site took place on Friday, and lawmakers decided, instead, that it would let state residents sign up on the federal Healthcare.gov site. Cover Oregon has only helped some 64,000 residents to sign up for any type of health insurance plan since October, despite the fact that the site cost some $300 million to set up. Further, most of the people who signed up actually had to fill out paper applications and mail them to the agency running the site, rather than doing it online.

This move was more or less expected to come for some time now, because the cost to the state for moving all current enrollees onto the federal exchange is likely to be somewhere between $4 million and $6 million, compared with as much as $96 million to once again overhaul Cover Oregon, the report said. Now, the federal government is turning its attentions to helping Oregon residents get coverage for next year as easily as possible.

More trouble brewing?
However, it's not just Oregon that has had to deal with issues in rolling out its state-run health insurance exchange, the report said. In addition, huge costs were incurred by Nevada, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and their sites, too, have issues that might not be able to be overcome cheaply or easily. Further, it's important to look at the cost per enrollee every state pays, as these can vary widely and show the efficiency of each exchange. For instance, Hawaii Health Connector essentially paid $35,000 per person to enroll this year, versus Covered California's $1,000 or so per sign-up.

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