Cover Oregon

Oregon’s Health Insurance Exchange 

Once small business owners realize that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax/penalty does not apply to companies with fewer than 50 employees their next questions are usually focused on the individual mandate and the cost of health care coverage. It goes without saying that cost is foremost on the minds of most employers, especially for those companies where coverage is not offered and that outlay is not currently built into their business model.

The ACA will require anyone who does not obtain health insurance from work to buy it from their state exchange (or if there is no state exchange they will be directed to a federal exchange).  Each exchange will determine the available plans and rates for small employers (initially less than 50 employees) and individuals.  In Oregon our exchange is called Cover Oregon. On the exchange’s website there is a cost estimate for individual plans but this is based on data from the Congressional Budget Office.  The Cover Oregon website is estimating an individual plan at about $300 per month. 
Cover Oregon began taking insurance provider applications to offer health care plans on the exchange as of November 30, 2012. In the application they note that health insurance rates would need to be turned into the insurance division by March 31, 2013.  Final rates would be approved July 1, 2013 and insurance plans go on sale October 1st of the same year.  However on the draft from an Oregon Insurance Division meeting on February 26, 2013 the new deadline for turning in rates is on April 30, 2013.  It is unclear if the remaining dates will need to be changed as well.  
I should note that our health insurance exchange is ahead of the game compared to other states. Governor John Kitzhaber is a former emergency room doctor who helped craft the Oregon Health Plan.  It is hoped that Oregon will remain ahead of the game with the best possible plan for all stakeholders.
Arin J. Carmack