Oregon is ahead of much of the country in implementing the Affordable Care Act. They've already got a preview of the exchange website up, where people can begin to research their options come October's enrollment period. Right now, it's largely limited to the proposed rates insurance companies are offering, but that's where the good news comes in.
"Posting rate comparisons company-by-company is a taste of what is to come," says Cheryl Martinis of the Oregon Insurance Division.The state will be approving rate approvals from all companies in July, so the information available to prospective Oregon shoppers is just a rough preview at the moment. But it's important, because for the first time it's brought real transparency to this market—even between competing insurers.
Judging by the reaction, there's already an impact.
Providence Health Plan on Wednesday asked to lower its requested rates by 15 percent. Gary Walker, a Providence spokesman, says the "primary driver" was a realization that the plan's cost projections were incorrect. But he conceded a desire to be competitive was part of it.
A Family Care Health Plans official on Thursday said the insurer will ask the state for even greater decrease in requested rates. CEO Jeff Heatherington says the company realized its analysts were too pessimistic after seeing online that its proposed premiums were the highest.
"That was my question when I saw the rates was, 'Can we go in and refile these?'" he said. "We're going to try to get these to a competitive range."