Enrollment fairs for Cover Oregon taking advantage of partially working website

Enrollment fairs for Cover Oregon taking advantage of partially working website »Play Video

If you still need to sign up for health insurance through Cover Oregon, the clock is ticking on open enrollment.

It closes at the end of the March, but there are some ways to sign up with less hassle, even though the public still can’t use the Cover Oregon website.

Cover Oregon isn't hosting any upcoming application fairs, but the community arm of a national labor group has teamed up with a local insurance company to walk potential customers through the enrollment process going down to the wire.

Joann Cawrse, of Cornelius, showed up at Earth Oven Pizza in Hillsboro on Tuesday night, not for a hot dinner, but for a safety net.

"I lost my job in January, and along with that went the insurance,” said Cawrse.

She's turning to the state's health insurance marketplace, Cover Oregon, to find a plan.

"I applied online and I've not received anything,” said Cawrse.

She’s talking about filling out a PDF application, and submitting that online. The public still can't use the Cover Oregon website in the way it was intended. It was supposed to go live on October 1, 2013.

Cawrse filled out her application again on Tuesday night.

"It’s a little frustrating, very repetitive obviously. It's an inconvenience,” Cawrse said.

To make it easier on people like Cawrse, Northwest Benefit Advantage has teamed up with Working America Health Care, the community arm of the AFL-CIO, for enrollment fairs like the fair Cawrse attended.

Mark Ehl told Cawrse it’s fine that she filled out a second application at the fair even though she already submitted a PDF directly to the Cover Oregon website and never got a response.

“What's changed in the last month is that Cover Oregon has extended to the brokers a portal where we will actually take her application and put it in ourselves through. It’s not a PDF anymore. It's actually an online application," Ehl said.

A few weeks ago, Cover Oregon launched part of the website for insurance brokers to use. This enrollment fair is using that option to help people, like Cawrse, make sure their applications are actually entered in to the Cover Oregon system.  And, the fairs are free.

"I feel a total relief because I didn't know what I was doing. I still don't know, but I'm going to have Mark show me the way,” Cawrse said.

Working America and Northwest Benefit Advantage will host one or two of these enrollment fairs each week through the close of open enrollment on March 31.

The next fair is on Wednesday night at Earth Oven Pizza in Hillsboro. It starts at 6 p.m.

A list of upcoming fairs can also be found on the Work America Health Care website. You can contact Kyle Allen at 503-995-8041 for more information.