Fun With ObamaCare Exchanges: Oregon Version
Oct 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM
David Hogberg in Government Health Care, Health Care, Health Insurance, ObamaCare, ObamaCare, ObamaCare Exchanges, Retirement, health insurance, obamacare exchanges, rate shock

Continuing the series on how plans on the ObamaCare exchanges compare to plans on ehealthinsurance, today we’ll look at the Oregon exchange, called “Cover Oregon.”  (See previous entries on California and Colorado).

Cover Oregon has a nice feature on its site that allows one to compare policies without registering for an account. On that page I entered the following information: age 29, income $40,000, 1 person in household, and zip code 97201 (Portland).  Here are the top four results in order of cheapest policies:



The cheapest catastrophic plan is $100 a month while the cheapest Bronze is $145.  Let’s see how that compares for a 29-year-old male in the same zip code on


Ouch!  That’s much lower than the exchange.  Indeed, if you rank the policies as best sellers instead of from cheapest to most expensive, you find that the $46 PacificSource policy is the most popular.  So, assuming that a lot of 29-year-olds in Oregon have that policy, those that move to the exchange will experience a rate shock of 117%.

It gets worse.  If you look at the full results for the search, you’ll count 25 policies that cost less than the cheapest catastophic plan, and 50 policies that are less than the cheapest Bronze plan. 

Next, let’s repeat the search but this time for a female:


The results are almost exactly the same.  The $46 policy is still the best seller, meaning a 177% rate shock.  The full results show 25 policies cheaper than the catastrophic plan and 49 cheaper than the Bronze plan.  In total, there are 50 plans on that cost less for 29-year-olds than the cheapest plan on the exchange, and 99 that are cheaper than the lowest cost Bronze plan.

However, such might prove true only for people in the 18-34 age bracket.  We’ve been told that in some instances the young will pay more to help the elderly by ObamaCare supporters:

The nongroup market right now is a bizarre health-care system that works best for those who need insurance the least. The sick and elderly are charged sky-high premiums or denied insurance coverage altogether. The upside of that practice, awful as it is, is that premiums are lower for young, healthy people. Obamacare ends that practice; as a result, some young, healthy people will end up paying higher premiums. 

So, I also conducted comparisons for a 60-year-old on Cover Oregon vs.  The cheapest plan (Bronze) was $351 on the Cover Oregon.  There are a total of 64 plans (32 each of male and female) that are cheaper on  What that comparison shows is the exchanges don’t “end” the practice of charing “sky-high premiums” for the sick and elderly.  If anything, the exchanges make that problem worse.

NOTE: Unlike the previous two posts, this time I didn’t compare permiums and deductibles.  I’ve been doing that in response to the argument that, yes, prices are higher on the exchange but the policies come with more benefits. But the more I’ve thought about it, that argument isn’t worth taking very seriously.  I’ll explain why tomorrow.

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