Oregonians who don't receive health insurance from an employer or another program will be able to purchase insurance through the federal exchange HealthCare.gov beginning Wednesday.
Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 for individuals who want to sign up for insurance for the first time, renew insurance or change their plan.
The exchange is a product of the Affordable Care Act and helped Oregon reduce its uninsured population to about 5 percent.
“In Oregon, we want people to get health insurance,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. “Now is the time to get health insurance if you don’t already have it."
Three insurance companies are offering plans for residents of Marion and Polk counties — Kaiser Permanente, Moda Health and Providence Health Plan. Most counties in the state have two insurance companies with plans people can choose from, though Douglas and Lincoln counties only have one.
But the exchanges will be open far less time this year than in the past.
The website will be down each Sunday (except Dec. 10) and also Wednesday night, the first night of enrollment.
The federal government said that the shut downs are for regular maintenance to ensure the exchange can continue functioning properly.
The open-enrollment period also will be 45 days shorter than in previous years — cut by about half — and funds meant for outreach, education and advertising were slashed.
Critics have said the current administration is intentionally trying to dissuade or reduce enrollment by putting roadblocks in the way.
While the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of insured individuals nationwide, critics, including President Donald Trump, say the system is failing as insurers leave the market and premiums continue to rise.
Republicans in Congress tried several times over the summer to repeal and replace the law — a long-time rallying cry for conservatives. Failing that, Trump took a first step in early October to undo parts of the law via executive order, specifically by removing some cost-sharing subsidies that allowed insurers to provide cheaper co-pays and deductibles.
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