After spending $305 million of federal grant money on the construction of Cover Oregon, the state’s health exchange was officially dissolved last week. Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced she was signing SB 1, legislation to dissolve the health insurance system with a short tweet Friday afternoon.
Cover Oregon has been marred by numerous problems during its construction and rollout, and eventually state officials decided to scrap the exchange and move to the federal system, at an estimated cost of $41 million.
Oregon was awarded its first round of “early innovator” funding from the federal government in February 2011, a total of almost $60 million.
However, weeks after the November 2013 deadline, Cover Oregon had failed to enroll a single person. In fact, the only innovation that Cover Oregon displayed was through its bizarre acid trip themed TV ad that cost taxpayers $3.2 million. The unusable website prompted the state to ask Oregonians to compare plans online and then fill out a 20 page paper application.
The disaster that was Cover Oregon prompted multiple federal agencies and organizations to launch investigations including the FBI, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Government Accountability Office, and the U.S. House Oversight Committee.
Eventually, Cover Oregon signed up 68,308 individuals, mostly through paper applications – just 29% of its goal of 237,000. All together, Cover Oregon spent almost $4,464 per enrollee only to return to the federal exchange.
This debacle was not limited to Oregon – many other states rolled out disastrous healthcare exchange systems. Massachusetts enrolled only 13% of its target in 2014 and Hawaii spent nearly $24,000 per enrollee on construction of its exchange.