Cover perspective

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The embarrassing decision this week about Cover Oregon – that its website operations in Oregon, under contract through Oracle Corporation, have filed so completely that the state will resort to going online via the federal website – most certainly calls for more answers than have been received so far. Heads have rolled already, and possibly more should as well.

We are after all talking about a couple of hundred million dollars that didn’t deliver what they were supposed to. That’s not a small deal.

But:

The uproar over the website should not obscure the larger picture, which is a lot brighter. The web site had to do with providing one option – not the only option – for people to sign up for health insurance policies. It was never intended as the only route to get that done. The website was not, many reports t the contrary, a complete failure: It did succeed in providing a good deal of information about what policies, at what costs, were available, and helped people locate assistance for finding human help to get covered. Personal testimonial: In our household, it worked in exactly that way. We got online, found relevant information and where to go for help, and got covered in the space of an hour and a half or so.

That one-time transitional element of the health insurance picture is a tiny slice of the overall, which is the expansion of health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who had not had it. That expansion, which is the point of the effort, has in fact happened, delivering results more or less as predicted.

A good deal more reporting attention ought to be focused on how well the new insurance regime is working. Our impression is that for the most part, it’s working not badly, but more inquiry in that area could be useful. Oregon’s health care picture is changing in big ways, and very little of that has much to do with the blinkered website.

Accountability is proper in a case like this. But one relatively small piece of the puzzle shouldn’t be so overwhelmingly preoccupying.

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