While there are rumblings in Washington about defunding the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, local efforts in Oregon are still going forward to get the uninsured health coverage as required under the act.
Beginning Oct. 1, Oregonians without health insurance - an estimated 560,000 people - can enroll in a plan through "Cover Oregon," the state's new health insurance exchange.
The exchange gathers together a variety of health plans and options from which consumers are able to chose. While people who already have insurance through their employer will not be affected, those who are currently uninsured will need to get insurance by Jan. 1 in order to be compliant with the law. Individuals not insured could face fines of 1 percent of his or her income.
Companies with 50 or more full time employees will be required to provide health insurance to their workers.
Other companies will be required to inform their employees about Cover Oregon and their obligation to buy health insurance. Cover Oregon also has plans available for small business owners, as well as information on tax credits of which small business owners can take advantage of.
Cover Oregon has contracted with two local community organizations to help those who need insurance understand what they need to know in order to find insurance for themselves and their families.
Oregon Coast Community Action, or ORCCA, and Port Orford Ocean Resource Team, or POORT, have been given the task by Cover Oregon to help Curry County residents enroll in a health insurance plan.
For the first few weeks the exchange is open, Cover Oregon will direct Curry County residents to contact these two agencies until the exchange on Cover Oregon's website, www.coveroregon.com, is open to the general public.
Kim Rollins with ORCCA, says the organization is planning meetings and health fairs to get information out to people about Cover Oregon. She said that those who have questions or who need to enroll, can call her to set up appointments about enrolling in health insurance at 541-435-7080 extension 315.
In Port Orford and Gold Beach, POORT has held meetings and is spreading the word about Cover Oregon and helping the uninsured shop for insurance.
Leesa Cobb, with POORT, said there are many tax credits available to help make insurance affordable. She said that using projected income, people will be able to find out which credits are available.
A meeting is planned in Port Orford Oct. 3, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Port Orford Library, to help explain Cover Oregon. Cobb said they are also planning a meeting in Gold Beach in the near future.
POORT is also willing to set up private appointments with people who need help with the process. Call Miranda at 541-655-0016 or Ann at 541-655-0011.
"We are happy to explain what Cover Oregon is about and help with applications and the application process," Cobb said.
Curry County residents will have 38 health insurance plans from five providers from which to chose, and small businesses will have 25 plans available from three carriers.
For more information about Cover Oregon, contact one of the agencies above, or call Cover Oregon at 1-855-268-3767, or visit www.coveroregon.com.