Those who are automatically re-enrolled should shop around.

The number of Oregonians signing up for 2016 health coverage using has jumped by 30,000, or nearly a third over what it was this past year.

As of last week 132,393 people in the state had enrolled for coverage using the federal exchange website. And open enrollment doesn’t close until Jan. 31.

Many of those people likely didn’t enroll on their own, however. Some were likely automatically renewed by the exchange into their same or similar plan. These consumers should consider changing plans before the end of this month to save money, officials and agents say.

That’s because some health plans, notably Moda Health, have increased their premiums and reduced their networks of approved providers significantly. That means plan members could face significantly increased costs for seeing a provider who is now considered out of network.

“For those who have not enrolled yet, it’s not too late to visit and shop for the best coverage for you and your family. January 31 is the deadline to shop for coverage for 2016,” said state spokesman Jake Sunderland. “Oregonians who miss that deadline and fail to enroll risk facing penalties.”

Under the federal health law that kicked in in 2014, many people are subject to potential tax-time penalties for failing to enroll in coverage. The penalties for 2016 are going up to as much as $2,085 per household.

Laura Cali, Oregon’s insurance commissioner, has warned that because of the many changes since last year, people should shop around – either using the website or an insurance agent, whose services are free to individual consumers.


People also may want to consider shopping outside of The federal website covers only plans certified for tax credits available to people with qualifying incomes. Many plans don’t appear on the exchange, but can be found on sites such as, run by Roseburg agent John Gridley.

Roughly half of the Oregonian who enrolled last year qualified for tax credits. Those who think they might qualify for tax credits should check first to see if they qualify for other programs, officials say.

Those who don’t qualify can enroll directly with a health insurer or using an agent, rather than face the increased requirements of the federal exchange.

Once the deadline for enrolling passes, people with qualifying incomes can still sign up for the Oregon Health Plan. They also can still enroll in private health plans if they have what’s called a qualifying life event, such as losing their job.

By Nick Budnick
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