Federal leeway on insurance benefits may push back plans for a health insurance exchange in Oregon

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Oregon Health InsuranceEarlier this month, the Obama administration announced that it would allow states to take control of the benefits they offer to consumers through their health insurance exchange program. While hailed as a major boon for states, the added leeway may push back efforts to form an exchange, such is the case in Oregon, where legislators have delayed current plans to further investigate how an exchange will affect the state’s insurance industry and its consumers.

Director of the Oregon insurance exchange Howard “Rocky” King claims that the exchange could extend coverage to more than 280,000 state residents. The announcement from the federal government means that King will have to factor in how new benefits will affect the cost of the insurance program. Before the announcement, the exchange would have to attract roughly 120,000 consumers to break even. Now, however, the program may need to attract more depending on the value of benefits needed by consumers.

The state will continue to investigate the effects of the benefits and how they might change the exchange, but King says that the exchange will be able to begin selling policies as early as the end of  2013. These plans would not take effect until January 2014, but  would give consumers time to get experience with the new insurance marketplace before it becomes  fully operational in the state.

Figures sited from Statesman Journal.

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