Cover Oregon prepares for worst-case scenario, slashes budget

Cover Oregon prepares for worst-case scenario, slashes budget »Play Video
Cover Oregon interim director Bruce Goldberg (left, leaning forward) lays out the state health insurance exchange's financial condition before the exchange's finance committee Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 for the next two years.

TIGARD, Ore. – Cover Oregon, the state’s health insurance exchange, is preparing for a worst-case scenario by slashing its budget for next year and bracing for lower-than-expected enrollment numbers.

Cover Oregon’s finance committee met at Cover Oregon’s offices Wednesday afternoon to get a breakdown of the numbers. Interim director Dr. Bruce Goldberg laid things out for the next two years.

This year, Cover Oregon has a $90 million budget – all of it federal taxpayer dollars. It has to use it or lose it.

Getting the website up and running is top priority and becoming self-sufficient means enrolling enough people in private insurance plans by year’s end.

Last month, Cover Oregon said it needs 145,000 people enrolled. It has about 35,000 – those are low enrollment projections and are numbers Cover Oregon has been working with since December.
The budget reduction comes in 2015. Goldberg cut it by $10 million, bringing it to $50 million.

A big chunk of that comes from advertising costs.

Advertising in the past was targeting young people – the very people Cover Oregon needs to enroll. They cost the least amount to insure but still pay a monthly fee.

Goldberg said he’s confident young people will sign up, not because of advertising, but instead when they know Cover Oregon has a working product.

Watch the full interview with Goldberg below: