Bend residents wading through Cover Oregon

Glitches in system still don't allow for online enrollment

POSTED: 7:20 PM PDT October 15, 2013    UPDATED: 11:32 AM PDT October 16, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

Cover Oregon appointments planned for weeks don't always go much further than explaining options so far. But for Erin Brosterhous, it could be one meeting closer to changing her family's life.

"Is it food or rent? Is it borrowing money to pay the insurance bill every month? So it's been challenging," Brosterhous said Tuesday.

Brosterhous owns her own public relations and marketing firm. She had two unexpected surgeries this year, and says her COBRA insurance is so expensive, it's hard to make ends meet.

Her kids are covered through the Oregon Health Plan's "Healthy Kids" program,  but now Brosterhous hopes to find cheaper insurance for her husband and herself.

"We might qualify for something," she said.  "I can't say exactly how we compute in that system."

Right now, the Cover Oregon website won't show federal tax credit rates -- agents can only estimate. You still can't enroll yourself in the program online, and neither can insurance agents.

"We can look at plans, but we're not looking at really what it's going to cost," said High Desert Insurance Office Manager Kristine Akenson.

Appointments are pushed back once, twice, as Central Oregonians wait for Cover Oregon to catch up with the marketplace it promised two weeks ago.

But those eager to get started are already browsing plans and getting ideas of what they'll pay.

"(We're) looking at even more of a rate increase, but than you're also getting that better coverage," said insurance shopper Astacia Christenson.

Christenson is a hairdresser in Bend who purchases her own private insurance, but soon some benefits through her plan are terminating, and she's shopping for new options.

 Christenson said without a tax credit, her insurance bill might go up -- and that's okay with her.

"The girls (Christenson's daughters) haven't had dental, and neither have I. We're ready to have dental coverage," Christenson said.

However, Christenson said she'll likely qualify for a tax credit, and her new insurance plan could end up being cheaper. How much cheaper, she doesn't know.

Cover Oregon officials said later this month, agents should be able to start enrolling people. They also say you should be able to start enrolling yourself online before November.

And if you prefer good old-fashioned paperwork, you can enroll yourself now -- just fax or mail the forms to Cover Oregon.

For help enrolling or finding a community partner or agent to help you through the process, just head to KTVZ.COM's Health Care Reform page, which has links to Cover Oregon and other resources, along with videos and the latest news on the topic.