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Rebecca Webster with Gente Shaw
By Helen Silvis | The Skanner News
Published: 15 November 2013


 A team of health navigators from the Urban League of Portland visited Portland Community College’s Cascade campus Nov. 12, to help people sign-up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. (Scroll to foot of story for dates and places to get help.)

Armed with paper applications, Bisi Carter, Tawanna Johnson and Gente Shaw walked applicants through the sign-up, which took about five-10 minutes.

“I thought it was really easy,” said Elaina Farris, 28, a student who has been without healthcare for two years.

“Fortunately I’ve been healthy. But things can happen and it’s good to have access to healthcare. It’s important to have access to preventive care, not just catastrophic coverage.”

Under the new healthcare law, if you sign up by December 15, your coverage starts Jan. 1, 2014.

Rebecca Webster, a full-time student and mother to a 12-year-old boy, said she hopes she and her son can finally attend the same medical clinic. Until now, she has had to search for any free medical care she can find.

“It’s exhausting to go from place to place,” she said. “You can do your best by not smoking, not drinking and eating your veggies, but when you don’t have healthcare you don’t really know how you are doing.”

The Urban League of Portland is one of many community organizations partnering with Cover Oregon to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Help in Washington state

Carter said her team has helped 60 people so far, complete  paper applications. The Urban League then faxes that information to Cover Oregon.

“One gentleman was paying $700 a month through his employer for himself and his daughter,” she says. “But because he earns less than $30,000 a year, he was eligible for financial assistance.”

Andrew Ball, a 27-year-old who plans to major in math and physics, said he found the paper application easier than expected.

“I’m glad they had this little event here, because otherwise I probably would not have had time to do this,” he said.

Farris said she believes people will rush to sign up when the Cover Oregon website is working as planned. “Having to go somewhere to do it is a deterrent,” she said. “I think when the website starts working more people will sign up because they can look at the plans and choose.”

Other Portland-based nonprofits  working with Cover Oregon are: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, the African American Health Coalition, Asian Family Center, Native American Youth and Family Center,  Central City Concern, Outside In, and many more.


Next outreach dates for the Urban League of Portland sign-up team are:

Nov. 18:  6pm-8pm at Rosemont Court, 597 N.E. Dekum St.

Nov.19: 10am-1pm at PCC Sylvania,12000 S.W. 49th Ave.

Nov. 23:  11am – 3pm at the Fix It Fair, 12003 N.E. Shaver


What to Bring:

Your social security number, and/or Alien Resident number for everyone in your family who is applying for coverage.

Your work and income information

Other financial information including: alimony paid, student loan interest, educator expenses, IRA contributions and tuition/fees

Any self-employment tax payments

Current health insurance information

Information about health coverage available through an employer

The Washington State Health Exchange already is up and running atwww.wahbexchange.org/.  But you don’t have to have Internet access to apply. You can fill out a paper application, and get help from trained personal assisters or insurance agents. To get a paper application or find free help to apply in Washington, call 360-688-7700.


Cover Oregon also is hosting a series of application fairs across the state.


Cover Oregon asks that you register online for a specific time slot if possible. The more people register, the shorter the wait time at the events.  

Register Here:

Portland, Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, 10 a.m.-8:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland

Medford, Nov. 20, 12-8:00 p.m. at the Ramada Medford Hotel & Conference Center

Eugene, Nov. 21, 12-8:00 p.m. at Lane Events Center

Bend, Nov. 22, 12-8:00 p.m. at the Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center

Salem, Nov. 25, 12-8:00 p.m. at the Oregon State Fair & Expo Center (Cascade Hall)

For a list of all events, click here.


Cover Oregon offers these tips:

For a faster experience at the application fair, participants can start their application at home by downloading and printing it at CoverOregon.com. Fill out as much information as possible and then bring the application to the fair.

Assistance will be available in English and Spanish. For assistance in other languages, or for assistance in participating in this event due to a disability as defined under the ADA, please call Cover Oregon at 1-855-CoverOR or e-mail [email protected] at least three business days prior to the event.

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