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Your personal guide to navigating through health care reform.


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low cost health insurance
OnlineNavigator insurance enrollment supportNeed help?

We make it easy to get friendly, personal and help with health care reform questions with two fast and free support options:

Online support:
OnlineNavigator
is an independent adviser service offering free online support about any health reform issue. OnlineNavigator is not acting as agent for any qualified health insurance marketplace and is not affiliated with any federal or state programs. This service is available online 24/7 through email and social media sites usually with same day response. See the web site for details on privacy policy and terms of service.

Telephone support:
Live sales agent support is available during business hours at (800) 609-0683.

Most Liberal Eligibility

Smart Accident Insurance - supplemental coverage for emergency treatment of accidents and injuries for as little as $20 per month. Can be used as a stand-alone accident plan or to increase other insurance benefits.

Most Affordable

Health plans for diabetics - a listing of the health plan options and other resources
Secure Lite STM - the lowest priced major medical insurance for 1 to 12 months
Value Med Insurance - 3 question simple medical eligibility and immediate approval for supplemental doctor and hospital benefits

Long Term Major Medical

Members Health Insurance Exchange allows you to price and choose from among many of the nations leading major medical health insurance options from a wide range of carriers. Personal help is available through OnlineNavigator to help with your selection.
There are no low cost insurance options at this time.

Dental Insurance

Core Dental Insurance - preventive, basic, and major dental expenses with the dentist of your choice. Shortest waiting period.
Secure DentalOne - one lifetime deductible of $100 and then up to $1,250 per year coverage
Dental, Vision and Hearing Insurance - no deductible option, use any dentist, ophthalmologist, optometrist, physician or audiologist, no networks!

Online Life Insurance

Smart Term Life Insurance - affordable term life insurance up to $350,000 issued same day with a direct online application. No exam, agent appointment or telephone verification required.
International Term Life - up to $2 million coverage issued by Lloyds online specifically for those who spend time outside of the US

Oregon affordable health insurance exchange and supplemental coverage

Prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Oregon was an early innovator of health insurance exchange technology with 25 commercial health insurance companies licensed to offer health insurance and 15 small group health insurance plans as well as state-sponsored Oregon Medical Insurance Pool health plan for residents who are denied coverage under a commercial plan due to a pre-existing medical condition. These standard health insurance plans may not be affordable to all residents.

Since the passage of federal health insurance reform law, individuals and small businesses (with less than 50 employees) in Oregon can now purchase health insurance through the federal heath insurance clearinghouse or through a number of privately operated insurance exchanges. The state government is likely to expand its own insurance exchange system in cooperation with either the federal or private systems within the next few years. Non-insurance options, like Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) can be added as effective cost-control tools; ask your adviser for more information. This Web page lists some of the most popular low cost commercial health insurance plans and related benefits. Freedom Benefits offers personal assistance with any insurance exchange or health reform issue through www.OnlineNavigator.org . Please note that while many of these choices could be included in more than one of the suggested usage categories, each plan is listed only once for the sake of brevity. OnlineAdviser is available to discuss suitability of any plan for your specific situation.

For 2014, the federally mandate essential insurance benefit plans will be available through the Cover Oregon Website. 22 insurance companies are approved to offer coverage through the exchange.

The state insurance exchange is expected to be online by October 2013 with coverage starting January 2014, so individuals without insurance should make arrangements for temporary coverage until then. Covered health benefits under insurance purchased through the exchange in 2014 will be different than those offered though any 2013 health plans. The insurance plan that sets the benchmark for qualified coverage through the exchange is listed here and a list of state-mandated benefits can be found here.

Commercial insurance exchanges may also list less expensive insurance without the essential health benefits. Members Health Insurance Exchange handles pricing and direct online enrollment for many of the state's most popular commercial major medical insurance plans for individuals and families.

low cost health insurance

Oregon insurance & benefit news

Oregon had the 20th highest health insurance costs of all states in 2008 with an average family premium of $12,585 per year. (The average annual premium for a U.S. family covered under an employer-sponsored health plan in 2008 was $12,298 according to The Commonwealth Fund report. The overall quality of health care ranked 32nd out of the 51 states (including DC).
The state has the 15th lowest small business health insurance costs in the U.S. according to a 2010 Department of Health and Human Services report with an average premium of $908 per month for family coverage.
Oregon offers a consumer advocate service by telephone and e-mail to help consumers with insurance issues. 

Short Term Insurance

Markel Smart STM - popular and affordable short term major medical insurance with fast online approval
Secure STM - along with its 12 month and 36 month options, this may be the highest quality short term coverage

Intermediate Term

Inbound Immigrant - up to five years of liberal health insurance coverage after immigration including maternity coverage, emergency and other essential benefits

Supplemental Insurance

Consumers Direct Accident Medical - Protection UpgradeSM supplemental coverage for as little as $20 per month.
Smart Accident Insurance - supplemental coverage for emergency treatment of accidents and injuries for as little as $20 per month. Can be used as a stand-alone accident plan or to increase other insurance benefits.


low cost health insurance

Oregon insurance law and regulation

The Oregon Department of Insurance Web site contains a link to the complete text of insurance laws and regulations.  The Web site has not yet developed resources to help individuals find commercial low cost health plans like mini-med or core coverage, specific illness policies, supplemental insurance and basic health insurance.
The state insurance department can be reached by telephone at (503) 947-7984 or by mail at PO Box 14480, Salem OR 97309. The state children's health insurance plan (CHIP) Web site is Oregon Health Plan.

Small business plans

Freedom Benefits offers professional help with setup of self-administered Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA), Premium Reimbursement Plans, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and insurance at a low price than any small business can afford.

Non-insurance Discount Plans

Careington PPO Discount Plans - the nation's leading network PPO discount provider allows a no-risk trial of any discount plan for only a $20 processing fee
Drug Card America - a free prescription drug card that an be used nationwide
Essential Dental Solutions - simple, inexpensive, no waiting period, up to $500 treatment per year
Rx Pay Card - $10, $20, or $30 payments for hundreds of popular prescriptions.

Telemedicine

CallMD - Doctors and nurses literally on call 24/7 to answer questions, help with medical screening and write prescriptions saving you money with the most common types of medical care. $20 per month covers everyone in the household.

International Coverage and Travel Insurance

Oregon Insurance News

2/11/2014 Professional support for any health care reform issue is available free of charge through an arrangement with OnlineNavigator. All online inquiries are handled personally by Tony Novak, CPA. Online support is available through a number of popular social media channels including Facebook and Google+ as well as e-mail. Telephone support for insurance enrollment is available through Members Insurance Exchange at (800) 609-0683.

8/13/2013 Cover Oregon insurance exchange announced that it will not have navigators ready to assist consumers with enrollment prior to 2014. Consumers can still enroll through licensed and specifically qualified insurance agents.

7/26/2013 Affordable Smart Term Life Insurance is now available to most Oregon residents from age 20 through 60 directly online with no physical exam, agent appointment or telephone verification. Most policies are issued on the same day with coverage amounts of $25,000 up to $350,000. The level premium life insurance is available for terms of 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. Sample rates for $150,000 coverage for a preferred risk male age 30, non-tobacco $30.85 per month; tobacco user $49.55 per month. A preferred risk female age 30 non-tobacco user would be $26.49 per month and a tobacco user would be $40.96 per month. Rates are higher for older applicants and lower health risks as described online. Pricing is based on input you provide about your medical history but, unlike most other life insurers, does not consider family medical history. Coverage is issued by innovative National Life Group, rated "A" by A.M. Best Company for 2013.

3/11/2013 This page was updated to include a link to the insurance plan that will be used to determine specific "essential health benefits" for insurance that qualified for 2014 federal tax purposes. Also, a link to additional covered benefits required by state law. Non-qualified insurance is likely to continue to be available at a lower cost that does not include these benefits nor qualify for federal tax purposes.

12/14/2012 Oregon is one of a minority of states that will run a health insurance exchange for individuals and small businesses that is not managed by the federal government. Consumer advocates who once viewed a state-run exchange as a positive are growing concerned that the state may not be fully committed to implementing all of the funding and features expected to be part of the federal health insurance exchanges that are expected to open in the fall of 2013.

2/1/2012 The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, a division of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that as of June 30, 2011 Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is the state's largest health insurance provider and as such, earns the right to set the benchmark for the development of the state's essential benefit plans to debut in 2014 under health reform law.

7/21/2011 Oregon consumers are caught in the middle of a legal loophole of health reform law that requires state authorities to review rate increases of more than 10%. The law was intended to provide stability to insurance but turns out to have the opposite effect, causing tens of thousands to lose coverage in Oregon. The number of in-force policies decreased from more than 100,000 to less than 60,000 in the three years since the rate cap policy has been in effect. Blue Cross stated that it would be unable to continue to offer insurance under the current rate cap system. Prior to 2007 policyholders typically reacted to a rate increase by adjusting their level of benefits, perhaps by increasing the policy deductible, to keep the premium affordable without determining the insurer's ability to offer the coverage. That price stability mechanism is not longer effective under the new laws.  

Oregon officials changed the average rate increase from 22% to 13% for policies affecting about 59,000 Oregon Blue Cross policyholders. The unintended side effect of the new law is that insurance companies do not continue to offer policies where claims growth is expected to exceed the allowable increase in future premiums. Blue Cross stated that it is unable to continue to operate and honor the coverage provisions on the existing policies at that rate but did not announce plans to cancel coverage. The immediate effect is that provider payments will be trimmed or delayed, according to a company manager. Under the longer term, Blue Cross CEO says the individual insurance plan cannot be maintained. The insurer may stop issuing new policies this year and not offer renewals on block of policies where claims growth is expected to exceed the 10% allowable rate increases. It is unclear whether the company will cancel some or all policies and whether adequate alternative options exist if Blue Cross stops offering the coverage in 2012 or 2013.

Freedom Benefits points out that regardless of whether rate increases are 13% or 22%, the cost increase is unsustainable and that a significant portion of Blue Cross policyholders will be forced to cancel coverage at either level of increase. Although there are no low cost permanent policies available in Oregon at this time, Freedom Benefits can assist affected policyholders with a low cost short term major medical policy that can provide coverage for up to 12 months. This coverage is only available to healthy applicants.  The other increasingly popular approach is medical tourism/migration where individuals travel outside of Oregon to obtain more affordable health care and medical insurance in other states or countries.

6/18/2011 A copy of the 2011 Oregon Guide to Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans can be viewed or downloaded at http://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/SHIBA/docs/2011_guide.pdf

5/24/2011 Oregon Insurance Division defended the limited enrollment periods that are intended to minimize the ability of families to wait to buy insurance in an email to insurance producers. Consumers and producers would prefer to have a loophole in the state's insurance laws that would provide to have permanent open enrollment for unhealthy children who take insurance coverage separately from their parent(s). Insurance companies correctly point out that a permanent open enrollment provision would allow individuals to purchase insurance only when it is needed and this eventually results in making the insurance unaffordable to anyone. Public comments will be received through June but we expect the situation will resolve as it stands now. The next open enrollment for child only coverage is in June. We feel that it is important to clarify that children may apply for guaranteed issue coverage at any time when a parent is also applying for coverage.

3/8/2011 The health exchange bill, as proposed, has drawn criticism from every sector of its stakeholders. Consumer advocates warn that the program would limit consumer choice and competition through selective contracting. The exchange would set product options that may not resemble or be comparable to products offered outside the exchange and insurers expressed concern that the exchange would assume oversight of premiums inside and outside the exchange, rather than house that responsibility with the Oregon Insurance Division as expected. Large employers are concerned that the exchange would regulate self-funded health plans in contrast to the treatment in other states. Hospitals and health care providers don't like the proposal's features that assess their performance. We hope to see changes that bring the Oregon health insurance exchange more in-line with the design used in other states.

2/17/2011 Oregon Health Authority was granted more than $48 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to use commercially available, off-the-shelf software to create a health insurance exchange. This Exchange Early Information Technology Innovation Grant will help Oregon create a modular, reusable IT solution that will provide the Exchange’s customers with seamless access to information, financial assistance and easy health insurance enrollment, with no gaps in coverage or assistance cliffs for anyone up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The Oregon Health Authority estimates that 516,000 Medicaid clients and 277,000 commercial insurance consumers will use the health insurance exchange to shop for and enroll in health coverage.

1/19/2011 Child-only health insurance for children with significant medical problems will be available through an open enrollment period mandated by federal state law under new rules developed by the state. All children, regardless of medical condition, continue to be eligible for insurance when applying as a dependent on a parent’s policy and healthy children are eligible for child-only insurance at any time. When applying for child-only insurance for more than one child, make a separate application for each child.

12/16/2010 Oregon Office for Oregon Health Policy & Research officials met representatives of 44 other states and numerous employees of the federal Health and Human Services Department in Washington DC this week for a two-day working meeting to discuss the next steps in establish a government-run health insurance exchange under the American Health Benefit Exchange Model Act. Their attendance at this meeting was paid for by a $1 million federal grant awarded by HHS in September to the state for research how to set up an insurance exchange. Two states (Alaska and Minnesota) declined to participate, saying that it was a waste of taxpayer money. Four other states (not identified in press reports) that received federal grants did not send representatives to the meeting. Attendees included representatives of 16 states that are suing the federal government in an attempt to overturn the federal health reform law; specifically the requirement that forces individuals to buy health insurance on the insurance exchange or pay a hefty tax fine.

In its initial federal grant request for the insurance exchange project, Oregon said that it would: 1) Study the feasibility of a public corporation Exchange model, including: a) Using a public comment web-portal and soliciting feedback, b) Guidance from technical assistance work group and consumer advisory group, c) Partnering with nearby States for joint purchasing, and 2) Create a final operational and technical infrastructure plan.

The meeting reportedly did not address the role of the commercial health insurance exchanges on the implementation of new competing government systems. The model act does not address inter-state insurance exchange proposals nor insurance sales across state lines. Federal officials admitted that they may not be able to provide further guidance until 2012. Meanwhile, most states are motivated to continue to meet requirements to obtain additional funding promised by the federal government for the establishment of insurance exchange by 2014. Freedom Benefits has previously voiced the opinion that the huge amount of money being spent to set up alternate insurance sales system technologies could be better used providing health benefits to the public. We proposed on the Universal Health Insurance blog that adequate commercial insurance sales systems are already in place that could be modified in a public/private partnership to make health insurance more affordable.

10/21/2010 Medicare update: Some Oregon residents covered by a fee for service Medicare Advantage plan must select new insurance for 2011. The 2011 edition of Oregon Guide to Medigap, Medicare Advantage & Prescription Drug Plans is now available online to help with these decisions. The state also offers free individual counseling with Medicare selection.

5/14/2010 Diabetes Coverage: A new resource to help find health insurance for diabetics in Oregon is now available at Freedom Benefits.


editorial information
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This Web site is independently owned and operated by Tony Novak operating under the trademarks "Freedom Benefits", "OnlineAdviser" and "OnlineNavigator". Opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent the opinion of any other person, company or entity mentioned. Tony Novak is not an agent, broker, producer or navigator for any federal or state health insurance exchange but may provide uncompensated advice, reviews and referrals to these resources. Novak is compensated as an accountant, adviser, affiliate consultant, marketer, reviewer, endorser, producer, lead generator or referrer to some of the other commercial companies listed on this site. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.