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Open enrollment starts Friday for Oregonians

Oregonians without health insurance will be busy during the state’s open enrollment period. It is the only time of the year many Oregonians who don’t get insurance through their employer can sign up for health coverage.

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. It is available through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, which was created in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act.

Health insurance sold through the marketplace includes individual and family coverage. There are around 8,500 people in Deschutes County who are uninsured and likely qualify for a subsidy to buy health insurance through the marketplace.

For 2019, more than 74% of Oregonians who enrolled through the marketplace got subsidies. The average amount they paid per month for coverage was $140.

Deschutes County residents can apply for subsidies and enroll online on their own, or they can get free, local help with the application at the Latino Community Association in Bend and Redmond.

The association partnered with the marketplace earlier this year, in August. It will be the association’s first year providing help with open enrollment health coverage.

” The marketplace plans exist to kind of fit a niche of the folks whose employers don’t provide health care or the health insurance, ” said Brad Porterfield , executive director of the Latino Community Association. ” What they do provide is too expensive — like over 9 percent of your earnings will be taken out to pay for that. ”

Elizabeth Croden of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace said Oregonians should take advantage of in-person enrollment advice.

“Working with a community partner or insurance agent is best for Oregon residents,” Croden said.

The first step for Oregonians buying their own insurance is to visit the Oregon Healthcare website.

OregonHealthCare.gov is the online home of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government. It is the state-level partner of HealthCare.gov, the national website where people enroll in marketplace plans and access subsidies.

Last year, more than 148,000 people in Oregon got coverage through the marketplace.

One of those Oregonians was Stephanie S., who responded when the Oregon Health Insurance marketplace asked consumers to describe their coverage experiences.

” My husband and I both own a small business together. Since we left the corporate world, we needed to find our own health care solutions, ” she said. “We eventually went to the website, and was able to filter through, answer the questions, and got to the one package that fit our needs the best.”

Health insurance sold through the marketplace includes individual and family coverage offered by private companies, such as Bridgespan , Kaiser, Moda , PacificSource and Providence.

Not every company is available in every part the state, but at least two insurance companies and at least seven plan choices are available everywhere in Oregon. In the Portland metro area, all five companies offer a total of 41 plan options.

Anyone legally present in the United States may shop through the marketplace. People without job-based coverage and who are not eligible for the Oregon Health Plan are the most likely to qualify for subsidies.

Subsidies make a big difference to those who qualify. Karl B. is a home remodeling contractor who got coverage through the Oregon Health Insurance marketplace and agreed to share his story.

“My subsidy is about $250 a month,” Karl said. “In the end, I think I’m paying somewhere between $100 and $200 a month, and that’s to me a great price point.”

The financial assistance varies with a person’s income; larger subsidies generally go to people with lower incomes. The best way to estimate your own subsidy is to go to OregonHealthCare.gov/ windowshop .

Oregonians can apply for subsidies and enroll online on their own, or they can get free, local help with the application. Insurance agents and community-based advocates providing that assistance are listed at OregonHealthCare.gov/ gethelp , or call 855-269-3767 (toll-free).

Open enrollment lasts until Dec. 15 for 2020 coverage. Once the deadline passes, people can buy insurance only when they have a major life change, such as having a baby, adopting a child or losing other health insurance.

KTVZ News Team

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