Legislators consider state health insurance exchange plans

(Oregon Public Broadcasting) — Oregon legislators are looking at plans for the state's new health insurance exchange. Experts think enough people are likely to sign up to make the exchange pay for itself.

The exchange is being created to give individuals and small businesses a marketplace to shop for health insurance.

Lawmakers drew up the idea and experts delivered a detailed business plan this December. The plan shows that about 280,000 Oregonians are likely to use the exchange.

That's more than double the number needed to break even.

Exchange director Howard "Rocky" King told lawmakers the feds have also given the states broad leeway to pick the benefits the insurance companies on the exchange have to offer.

"And they've passed that to the states. And that to us is great news. I think that like the exchange, gives the State of Oregon really the ability to look at what it's citizens want and need and to frame that market place, rather than let somebody in Washington D.C. do that," King said.

But King warned that coming up with the required benefits will be difficult. He says it'll mean that the governor, legislators, insurance companies, regulators and state agencies to all need to work together.

The legislature is expected to debate the new plan in February.

AP-VA-Dec-27-11 2153EST

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