Ore. ahead in health care exchange creation

Ore. ahead in health care exchange creation

SALEM, Ore. - For the uninsured - after the passage of the health care reform bill over the weekend - they will be able to buy health care coverage beginning in 2014 through health insurance exchanges that each state will be in charge of creating.

Oregon is ahead of the game because it has been planning for about six months to create the health insurance exchanges that are close to what the federal bill requires.

During last year’s legislative session, lawmakers created the Oregon Health Authority to deal with health care reform.

Dr. Bruce Goldberg is the director, and he said the state has been developing a business plan to create health insurance exchanges for months.

The goal is to create a Web site where uninsured people can find good coverage deals. The site will allow the user to plug in search parameters and filter through a number of coverage options and prices.

“So they’ll be plans of silver, bronze, or gold, for example, is what some states have done to denote plans with different degrees of coverage and a different kind of a price,” said Goldberg.

The health care exchanges will be “a way for people to buy health insurance at an affordable price in a transparent manner,” he said.

He said his agency has been crunching numbers for the state-run plan and he said he expects insurance exchanges will cover 80 percent of uninsured people in Oregon.

The plan that the agency comes up with will be presented to legislators in January. Goldberg said he does not know how much it will cost yet, but he said his agency won’t ask legislators for funding through the state general fund; instead, he said federal tax credits will help the uninsured get health care coverage through the health insurance exchanges.

 “Small businesses and individuals, who right now can’t afford health insurance, will find through this legislation affordable options starting in 2014,” he said.

Goldberg said Oregon is one of just a few states working on health insurance exchanges before the federal bill passed.