Deadline looms for Cover Oregon

By Katy Nesbitt, WesCom News Service March 21, 2014 07:30 am

ENTERPRISE — Time is running out to sign up for Cover Oregon, the state’s portal for the Affordable Care Act.

Vixen Radford, Wallowa County’s Northeast Oregon Network representative, is trying to get the word out. 

“I’ve left brochures at accountant offices around the county and people still don’t know what open enrollment means,” she said.

Open enrollment to sign up for Cover Oregon, or in other words, the deadline to sign up, is March 31. Applications are available on www.coveroregon.org, but Radford suggests that applicants get assistance from her, an assister or an insurance agent.

Radford said most people who say they don’t want to sign up said they will just take the tax penalty — either $95 per person or a percentage of their income.

“But here’s where you are going to hit the problem. Clinics like Winding Waters (in Enterprise) are no longer doing a sliding pay scale. You could pay $100 for the visit and then more for prescriptions,” Radford said. “That $200 you didn’t pay for one month, you just paid for the visit and prescription, when you could have paid only a $20 co-pay and a reduced cost for medication.”

She said that is a mild example. 

“What if you break a leg or get cancer?” she said. “That will cost thousands of dollars in medical bills and if you own your house they can put a lien on it.”

Radford recommends that those who have not yet signed up to go online and shop for options, then give her a call at 541-398-398-2539 to make an appointment with her to go over the application before March 31.

“You can apply online, but you aren’t going to have my phone number on there if something gets hung up,” she said. “Fill it all out and print it, let me look at. I highly recommend somebody review it and highly recommend talking to tax accountants to estimate your income for what 2014 is going to look like.”

Income can be updated through the year if it changes, Radford said.

Union County residents can contact the NEON through its website, www.neonoregon.org, or call 541- 624-5100. Local insurance agents also are available to help, Radford said.

Those who don’t sign up will have to wait until open enrollment starts again Nov. 7, Radford said. Even then, an applicant won’t have coverage until Jan. 1, 2015.

“We just want to make sure everybody knows the deadline for open enrollment is March 31,” NEON Director Lisa Ladendorff said. “People who are eligible for Medicaid can be enrolled all year long, but those who qualify for the subsidies need to sign up this month.”