Several insurance companies in Oregon have recently decided to extend for one more year their previous noncompliant Affordable Care Act health plans.

The insurance companies that decided to extend their plans were required to contact individuals by the end of November letting them know that they can stay with their current plan until Dec. 31, 2014, although insurance companies PacificSource and Moda only extended their non-compliant plans until March 31, 2014. The Oregon Medical Insurance Pool is still terminating at the end of this year and individuals will need to find insurance coverage soon.

Individuals and families may want to still see what their many options are for health insurance in 2014.

For instance, individuals may choose to stay with their current health insurance or choose to purchase insurance directly through health insurance companies without the concern of going through Cover Oregon.

However, one of the greatest advantages of purchasing health insurance through Cover Oregon is that individuals may receive tax credits to help pay for their monthly premiums. The tax credits can be received during the year to help offset the insurance premiums. Families may also benefit from applying through Cover Oregon as they may qualify to be automatically enrolled into Healthy Kids and the Oregon Health Plan. Individuals can see if they qualify for tax credits by entering their information in the “Browse Plans Now” section at The website isn’t fully functioning but the financial savings calculator seems to be fairly accurate. Individuals should see if they will qualify for any tax credits by entering all possible income that could be earned in 2014. I would recommend that individuals consider either keeping their current policy or purchasing health insurance without applying through Cover Oregon if they do not qualify for tax credits as the application process is a little inconvenient right now.

If an individual may possibly qualify for a tax credit, then I would strongly urge that person to apply to Cover Oregon as soon as possible. The paper application needs to be mailed (postmarked) by Dec. 4. The application can also be faxed or submitted online.

The application is to determine if the individual would qualify for any tax credits to help pay the health insurance premiums. Once the application is received by Cover Oregon, they will mail a letter to the applicant informing the individual about the tax credits that they are eligible to receive and asking how they would like to apply the tax credits to their monthly insurance premiums.

Cover Oregon will also be sending an enrollment packet so individuals can decide which insurance company they want to have insurance with for 2014.

Once an individual makes a payment to that insurance company, that individual will be locked into having that insurance until next year’s open enrollment period, which is planning to start in October 2014.

In order to have health insurance coverage by Jan. 1, 2014, the enrollment packet must be sent back by Dec. 15.

With this short window of time to respond, it is important that individuals respond quickly back to Cover Oregon about how they want their tax credits applied and their choice of insurance company.

Individuals purchasing insurance either inside or outside of Cover Oregon could greatly benefit from seeking advice from a health insurance agent at no cost as an agent can recommend which company and plan would be a best fit for that individual.

Michael Nelson is an Oregon health insurance producer and enrolled agent located in Woodburn.

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