In which two Oregon bloggers try to get some health care coverage...

Carla Hanson

In which two Oregon bloggers try to get some health care coverage...

The Ol' Fashioned Way

Co-authored by James Barta and KC Hanson as we endeavor together to navigate through the first step in applying for financial assistance in the cover Oregon Program

Authors' note: We'll be updating this as we muddle through the process. If we can help folks avoid obstacles and frustrations as they also tackle this, we'll be pleased. Please do share your experiences, too.

Dec. 5, 2013

Update. (KC's) I got through on the 1-855-268-3767 number today after a brief time on hold. I spoke with a very helpful CO representative named Deborah. (The music on hold sounds much better on the TV than on the cell phone.) Here are the important highlights:

If you missed the Dec. 4 application deadline for financial aid, you can still apply. Your next deadline will be January 15, 2014 in order to qualify for coverage starting February 1. But be aware, there is a possibility of moving that deadline up. The Dec. 4 deadline had originally been Dec. 15, but the CO folks moved it up to have more time to process apps. There are 3 different ranges of reductions based on your projected 2014 income, plus Medicaid. There are also a variety of tax credits available.

If you have applied for financial aid, you do not need to do anything until you receive your eligibility letter and packet. However, your deadline for selecting a plan that would begin on Jan. 1 is Dec. 15. CO representatives are unable to give applicants an exact date range of when packets will arrive. If you do not receive your packet by December 12 or 13, you need to call in to the 1-855 #. The 15th falls on a Sunday, so Monday the 16th will be too late.

After our conversation, I went to the Cover Oregon website to start looking at plans. To view plans, you must provide some information which includes income level.. After I clicked SUBMIT, I got this: "Based on the income and household information you provided, part or all of your household may be eligible for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). OHP plan details are not yet available online."

James is also trying to view the plans. James got: "There are no plans that match the search criteria you selected. Please revise your search criteria or click View All Plans to view the available plans."

This narrative will continue.... I will call again tomorrow

A few notes:

Deborah checked to see if any Assistance Seminars were scheduled by Cover Oregon and she found none on the CO event schedule. However, seminars have been scheduled by different organizations. If you know of one in your area that will welcome guests, please share that info.

If you are aware of a mistake or omission on your application, go ahead and call in as soon as possible and correct it. Don't wait for CO to get back to you on it.

Financial Aid applications will not be available for online submission until further notice; right now that's not a CO priority and they are focusing on getting current applicant processed. If you plan to apply for financial aid, just do like we did and download the form.

Stay tuned....,

(From Dec. 4, 2013) Today is the deadline to apply for financial assistance in the Cover Oregon Plan. If you earn up to almost $46k as a single person, you can qualify. Today's deadline is for coverage beginning January 1, 2014. You will need to have your basic info ready (Social Security #s, birth dates, etc) for all who will be covered, plus your existing heath care provider and policy number. Be prepared to project your earnings, too.

You've probably heard that Cover Oregon is experiencing website issues, as we are trying to navigate the process, we can affirm that is still the case. While there is supposed to be an online application form available, there doesn't seem to be a clickable link to move you to the actual online application.

Another option is to download the 19 page application, complete it and mail it with today's postmark. To fill it out on your computer, covert it to Adobe.

12:30pm We are both still trying to access the online version, but moving in separate directions. James is completing the application on the download version. KC is yelling at the website.

12:32 KC called the Cover Oregon info line for the 4th time - 1-855-268-3767 (1-855-CoverOR). The first 3 attempts resulted in "your call cannot be completed as dialed". The 4th attempt resulted in a busy signal.

12:42 As advised by the CO website, KC has opened Internet Explorer in order to access the online version and got right back to the first above link. The linked page is more of a "application introduction page," and there still is no discernible link on the page that takes you online version of the application.

12:55 While KC attempts to cross the internet Rubicon of Cover Oregon, James is methodically completing the downloadable version of the app. Both are being assisted by their respective feline roommates, who have taken strategic positions on or near the computer.

1:00 KC tries the 855 #. "Your call did not go through"

1:28 James thinks he has it. Guessing future income is tricky when you have a spouse who works for herself. KC has succumbed to the download version and is pondering projected income, as well.

2:00 KC tries the 855 # again, Busy. James is off to the Post Office with his completed application of 15 printed pages, estimating that it took less than an hour to complete, even with a soup break. The second cat has arrived at KC's computer to help.

6:00 KC drops hers off at the downtown Portland Post office with the assistance of a PO clerk. James fesses up that he added an additional stamp to his mailer just to be safe.

The upshot is this - if you think you qualify, just use the downloadable version and send it off. You can qualify even if you already have insurance. You will need to stay on this, because in a little over a week, you will have to complete the "choose-a plan" portion. This has been a first dip into the waters for us, so please feel free to add your own experiences and advise.

Good Luck!

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