Cover Oregon Makes Health Care Choices Easier

Some think Obama Care and major changes in health care, rippling through the nation, are the panacea for all our health care problems. Others may think it is the work of self-serving bureaucrats and politicians and destined to wreak havoc on our already strained health care system and related insurance industry.  I unequivocally doubt that it is the former so I hope the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Whatever end of the spectrum you lean towards there is a bright spot on the horizon for Oregonians. Commencing this fall Oregon’s Health Care System will make it easier for employers to find coverage that fits their employees’ needs.  Additionally, the IRS is expanding tax credits to help them afford such insurance.

About 41 percent of small businesses in Oregon with 10-24 employees provided health insurance to their employees in 2011.  So the impact of the changes in Oregon’s Health Care System will affect a significant number of businesses and employees.

This fall Cover Oregon, a new online marketplace, will go live.  The site will allow small employers to choose from a wide range of plans from various carriers.   Some of the big names who have already filed plans with Cover Oregon include Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health & Family Services. Additionally two co-ops have filed plans, Oregon’s Health Co-op, and Freelancer’s Co-op.

Process wise, employers will designate the level of coverage they will offer and indicate how much they will contribute.  Employees can then select from plans available through carriers participating in Cover Oregon.  Thus significantly simplifying the selection and set up process.  The employer will get only one bill for their employees’ coverage, thus allowing the multiple choices without creating an administrative nightmare for the employer.

There is additional good news for businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000. They will be eligible for an expanded Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit, which may cover as much as 50 percent of the employer contribution toward premium costs. To qualify employers must purchase a plan through Cover Oregon and pay for at least 50 percent of the premiums.

For more details on the above, see the June 21, 2013, Portland Business Journal Article by Marvin Revoal.


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