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It's a difficult and confusing time to get your health insurance through Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Oregon.

Regence announced network changes last month that would have drastically cut the number of providers available to its customers in the Portland metro area, forcing many Oregonians to choose between switching doctors and facing much higher costs for basic care.  Regence also announced the elimination of low-deductible plans for its individual members, who will now face out-of-pocket costs starting at $2,500 before coverage kicks in.

In the wake of widespread criticism, Regence altered course today and announced that their network cuts would be scaled back and that coverage changes would be postponed until December.

Regence is to be applauded for recognizing that their customers were very unhappy with the drastic network changes they originally proposed, but with a rate hike planned, Regence customers can still expect to be paying more and getting less. They’re still cutting plans and from what we can tell, they still intend to charge some customers more depending on their choice of network, meaning that many people may need to pay extra to stay with their own doctor.

We will carefully scrutinize the next Regence rate hike to examine their justification for charging more for less. We will also examine their unusual proposal to vary premiums based on provider network to evaluate the effect this will have on Oregon consumers.

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