One woman found Oregon's exchange 'un-useable'

PORTLAND, Ore. - Amanda Thomas is self-employed and has pre-existing conditions.

She couldn't qualify for private insurance because of those things and was forced to have state health insurance. She knows that isn't around at the end of this year. So she has to sign up for new coverage. But on Tuesday she found out that her best bet may be skipping Cover Oregon altogether.

When Thomas went onto Cover Oregon's website, she found it to be sluggish and incomplete. She couldn't get detailed information about which doctors might be included as part of different plans.

She found estimates for deductibles and out-of-pocket pay that was similar to her current payments, but the website didn't offer details on other providers' plans. She also couldn't tell whether her doctors were part of the plans - that information just wasn't available.

Additionally, she doesn't qualify for a subsidy or tax rebate so there's no financial incentive.

She called an insurance agent she found on the Cover Oregon website. The agent told her she can pay about the same cost for a plan with a provider she prefers by contacting that insurance company directly.

While folks trying to sign up for new coverage found an incomplete website that didn't allow them to sign up for coverage online, Cover Oregon may be a helpful tool in a few weeks when there's more detailed plan information.

Both exchanges in Oregon and Washington had a few first-day glitches with their websites Tuesday. Oregon's wasn't correctly determining eligibility for tax credits and Washington's was off line for almost six hours. It opened again just after 2 p.m.