Consumers urged to look for other options, tax credits
through Cover Oregon
(Salem) — Oregon’s insurance commissioner announced Friday
she is giving insurance companies the option to extend health plans in the
individual and small group markets for up to another year, through Dec. 31,
The decision affects plans in place as of Oct. 1, 2013, that
would otherwise be canceled because they do not meet minimum coverage
requirements and financial protections under the Affordable Care Act.
“If an insurer chooses to offer extensions, it will need to
notify the Oregon Insurance Division and contact customers directly about their
options,” Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said. Cali expects the division
will provide insurers with more detailed guidance next week.
Cali made her decision in response to President Obama’s
announcement Thursday that federal regulators would allow states to decide
whether insurers can extend plans that were in effect on Oct. 1.
Cali said staying in the same plan may not be the best
option for many Oregonians.
“The new plans offered in 2014 offer more benefits and
financial protections, and many Oregonians will qualify for premium help
through Cover Oregon,” she said. “I strongly urge consumers to shop around and
find the plan that works best for them and their families.”
Federal subsidies to lower insurance costs are available only
to people who buy new plans with essential benefits through Cover Oregon, the
state’s health insurance marketplace. People should apply as soon as possible
to take advantage of federal tax credits that start Jan. 1, 2014. Contact Cover
Oregon at www.coveroregon.com.
About 5 percent of all Oregonians buy individual health
plans because they are self-employed, unemployed, or their employer doesn’t
offer coverage. About 145,000 of these Oregonians will need to shop for new
coverage. Most are in plans currently scheduled to end Dec. 31, 2013. Another
193,000 Oregonians are covered by small employer plans that are currently
scheduled to end on their renewal date, which may be as early as Dec. 31, 2013.
The Insurance Division is part of the Department of Consumer
and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer