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The Oregon health insurance marketplace, named Cover Oregon, seems close to bringing a prediction to life. As one of the earliest states to adopt the health insurance marketplace concept, Oregon recently disclosed its proposed rates for operations beginning in 2014. The proposed rates highlight one primary prediction that has been highly debated – Health Insurance Marketplaces can drive down health insurance cost.

As demonstrated by the rates released by Cover Oregon, there is widespread disparity among suggested insurance premiums of different carriers. Naturally, this pitting of competitors together in a public environment has led insurance carriers to reconsider their premium calculations and become more competitive.

Participating Carriers at Oregon Health Insurance Exchange

Cover Oregon is home to a competitive health insurance market, a fact evident from the exceptionally close premium numbers proposed by most carriers. The list of insurance carriers competing at Cover Oregon include FamilyCare Health Plans, John Alden Life Insurance Company, Health Net Health Plan of Oregon, Freelancers Co-OP of Oregon, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the NW, LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, Oregon’s Health Co-OP, PacificSource Health Plans, Moda Health Plan, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Providence Health Plan, Trillium Community Health Plan and Time Insurance Company.

A closer look at the rates released by these insurance carriers on the Cover Oregon marketplace reveals that better things would follow soon. For instance, in Portland area,

•    A single, 21 year old, non-tobacco user would pay an average premium of $207.5 per month across plans without taking the financial benefits into account. The cost of the same for a single, 40 year old, non-tobacco user comes out as $265 per month.

•    The highest premium quoted by any of the insurance carriers is $330 while the lowest is $132. While FamilyCare Health Plans Inc. posted highest premiums across all categories, no such trend was observed for the other extremity.

•    The offerings are divided across three categories- Bronze plans, which cover about 60% of medical costs, Silver plans, which cover about 70% of medical costs, and Gold plans, which cover about 80% of medical costs.

•    Several insurance carriers are recalculating their proposed premiums and working on issuing a fresh set of quotes before October 1, 2013. FamilyCare Health Plans Inc. acknowledges an error in premium calculation and hopes to regain its competitive edge by offering better premiums before the insurance exchange goes live.

•    An interesting fact about PPACA compliance brought to fore in Cover Oregon marketplace implementation is that insurance carriers would not be able to discriminate against consumers with a preexisting medical condition, and age and tobacco use would be the only two distinguishing factors.

With more than 200,000 people looking to buy health insurance off the Oregon State-Based Marketplace, the platform is fertile for more competition, better rates and higher individual benefits. And, as commanded by Oregon HIX, other state HIX are set to follow suit and precipitate tough competition among carriers and shower of benefits among buyers.

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