As many Oregonians sit down in the coming weeks to decide which health insurance plan to buy into, some are finding their choice both limited and overwhelmingly expensive.
Loralea Grey has come to dread this time of year, and she said reading about what her premiums would be this year was startling.
"I sort of had an anxiety attack," she admitted.
Grey, who is self-employed, found her insurance, which covers her husband, two children, and herself, would cost roughly $400 a month more than she paid last year.
She is hardly alone. This summer, state regulators approved double-digit rate increases for several health insurance providers, including Moda Health, Providence, and Regence Blue Cross-Blue Shield.
After those increases were announced, Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, explained his office's approval of the rate hikes.
"We are concerned about the shrinking number of options in certain areas of the state, and we asked insurance companies to reconsider their decisions to withdraw," Allen said. "This is a short-term solution to provide more options in 2017."
Scott McAlpine, whose premium to cover his wife, himself, and his college-age son rose from $1,428 per month to more than $2,000 per month, said he's not sure his family can afford insurance at these rates.
"I frankly don't look forward to the notion of canceling health insurance,” McAlpine said. “But if you have nothing else you can cancel, pretty soon we're not making house payments."
According to the Oregon Insurance Division, people buying individual insurance plans on the health exchanges can expect to see rate increases ranging from 8.3 percent to 37.8 percent.
The federal government noted Monday that increases like the ones affecting Oregon are likely to be seen across the country in 2017, with an average increase of 25 percent expected in the states served by the federally run online market.
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