Officials Worry ACA Repeal Efforts Will Affect Oregon Marketplace

By Kristian Foden-Vencil (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Sept. 27, 2017 7:04 p.m.

Health care workers in Oregon worry that repeat efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act might have left consumers confused.

Their biggest worry is that when enrollment opens in a month, people won’t sign up because they think the market is dead or dying.


“We don’t know how many will turn out to enroll,” said Elizabeth Cronen with the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. “But we know that we’re doing everything we can to reach them with the message that it’s available.”

One of the problems is that President Donald Trump has reduced the amount of money available to let people know it’s time to enroll again.

That’s likely to reduce enrollment in states that rely solely on the federal marketplace,

In Oregon, Cronen said her agency has its own advertising budget of about $2 million a year. So there will probably be some radio and TV advertising.


“Now that they’re going to scale that back, we will increase our effort,” she said.

That effort will include digital, print and broadcast advertisements, Cronen said.

Enrollment in Oregon runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. The final rates for individual health plans were posted this summer. Seven companies are participating in the state and their premiums increased between 1.6 percent and 14.8 percent year over year.

For example, the premium for a 40-year-old Portlander who buys a sliver standard plan range from $355 to $452 a month.

But those costs don’t include financial assistance.

The state estimates that in 2017, Oregonians who received help with their coverage paid an average of $147 a month for individual health insurance.

Many people don’t realize they are eligible for financial help. For example, a family of four with an income of $98,000 a year can still receive tax credits to help pay.

Trump’s administration has refused to make any longterm commitment to fund market subsidies. He has repeatedly said politicians should “let Obamacare fail” if it can’t be repealed.

The individual mandate, which requires everyone purchase insurance, is still in effect. But at the behest of the Trump administration, the Internal Revenue Service announced in February that it is no longer mandatory for taxpayers to indicate whether they buy insurance on their tax forms.