Briefly: Oregon's Health Insurance Enrollment Lags By 15 percent

People without Medicare, Medicaid or job-based health insurance coverage have until the end of the day Saturday to sign up and get a subsidy.

Oregon’s enrollment in health insurance for people without Medicare, Medicaid or job-based coverage is lagging by 15 percent.

The deadline to sign up for 2019 coverage is at the end of Saturday. As of Wednesday, about 73,000 people in Oregon had enrolled. That’s about 15 percent fewer than at the same time last year.

Chiqui Flowers, administrator of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, told a legislative meeting in Salem that she expects a deluge of demand through Saturday.

“Some people do tend to wait,” she said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also warned Wednesday of stepped-up demand. It said its website experienced a delay this week but largely kept up with demand. There has also been a heavy volume of calls. Anyone who calls 800-318-2596 or, for the hearing impaired, 855-889-4325, by Saturday will be able to enroll though they might be asked to leave their contact information and have an official call them back before Jan. 1.

The only way to get a subsidy is through the federal marketplace.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected].

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Please do not refer to Advance Premium Tax Credits as a subsidy. Most of the public thinks of subsidies as not having any potential negative tax consequences. In the Federal Marketplace portal (Exchange), insureds are prompted to estimate their upcoming annual Modified Adjusted Gross Income. This estimate is then compared against the second lowest silver plan available. The calculation is made by the Exchange software; and an Estimated Annual tax credit is the result. The insured can then use up to 1/12 of the estimated annual tax credit on a monthly basis, to be paid to an insurance company they enroll with. This is called the Advanced Premium Tax Credit. The annual tax credit is then reconciled as part of the tax filing process. If the insureds income is higher than estimated, they could owe all, or some of the Advanced Premium Tax Credits back to the Government through their tax liability. Thus I always caution people to not call it a subsidy. Subsidies are generally not reconciled during the tax filling process, and do not create a tax liability. But an Advanced Premium Tax Credit could end up being a tax liability that is not discovered until a year later at tax time.