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Enrollment lags after website switch

PORTLAND — Only about one in 10 Oregonians who previously signed up for private health care insurance through the state health insurance exchange has re-enrolled through the federal portal, officials said.

The state abandoned the troubled Cover Oregon health care site in the spring and switched to the federal site, HealthCare.gov.

Open enrollment on the federal site runs through mid-February. But all those who bought coverage through the now-defunct state exchange must re-enroll via the federal site by Dec. 15 or face a break in coverage in January.

Cover Oregon officials say just 7,200 Oregonians had selected a private health insurance plan through the federal portal by the end of November.

About 77,000 Oregonians were enrolled through Cover Oregon in 2014. A total of 105,000 actually enrolled but some dropped off due to cancellations and terminations.

"People tend to wait until the last minute, but it's important that you don't wait too long," Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said in a statement.

Oregon and Nevada, which also switched to the federal portal, are the only two states where all residents previously enrolled through the state exchanges must re-enroll. In other states that rely on HealthCare.gov, people who don't make a new plan selection are automatically re-enrolled in the same or similar plan for 2015.

Some of those who've enrolled thus far via HealthCare.gov may have been previously uninsured. A study released in September showed about 200,000 Oregonians, or 5 percent of the population, remained without coverage.

Some could be people who previously had coverage through an employer, or whose income dropped, thus allowing them to purchase insurance on the exchange.

The data show an additional 12,000 Oregonians enrolled in private coverage outside HealthCare.gov. Those numbers were reported to the state by insurance carriers.

Oregonians who are covered through the Oregon Health Plan, the state's version of Medicaid, are not required to re-enroll. However, those seeking new Medicaid coverage will also use HealthCare.gov.

Cover Oregon officials are running an ad campaign on social media and television, and holding enrollment events to attract more previously enrolled people to sign up again.