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A wake-up call on health insurance costs

By Jesse Ellis O'Brien
Policy Director

Governor Kitzhaber’s office just released a report that should serve as a wake-up call for everyone in Oregon who is affected by the rising cost of health insurance.

Under the federal health reform law, insurance companies will be required to give their customers much better coverage, and will no longer be allowed to turn away anyone with a pre-existing condition. Many consumers will experience higher benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs. These important gains don’t come free, however.

According to the report, if the state does nothing, many Oregonians will see much higher premiums due to the cost of providing these enhanced benefits. Although tax credits included in the federal health reform law will help shoulder some of this cost, not all consumers will qualify.

This report just underlines what we’ve been saying all along—that it’s time to get serious about the cost of health care.

With premiums rising all the time, we have been pushing the state to hold insurance companies accountable for keeping costs down for consumers. We also think that, done right, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange can help contain the cost of insurance while improving care. But with health insurance already unaffordable for many Oregonians, this report lends even more urgency to this work.

Right now, we are combing through the report. In the coming weeks and months, we will be working with state officials to find strategies to keep costs down and avoid a premium price spike in 2014. And we will be sure to keep you updated every step of the way!

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