Oregon Announces Two Small Co. Health Plans

February 1, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has unveiled two health insurance plans to help the state's small businesses provide insurance to employees and their families.

The plans are aimed at making health insurance more affordable for employees at Oregon companies that employ between two and 50 people and offer no health insurance, according to an Associated Press report.

One plan is for adults and would provide minimal coverage to employees and their spouses. The other plan, for children to age 23, would provide full coverage, except for dental. Employers must contribute at least $50 per employee per month for enrollment, but can opt to pay up to 100%.

“We know how difficult it is for employers to cover employees and their families,” Kulongoski said at a news conference. He said that the new plans could reduce health insurance costs for small businesses by about 30%.

Kulongoski also said lower-income families may be able to get help paying the premium for the children’s plan through the Family Health Insurance Assistance Program, a state program that subsidizes health insurance costs. Kulongoski said that, now that the state has made a major effort to make health insurance more affordable, “it’s time for the uninsured small businesses to do their part” by purchasing the low-cost programs, according to the Associated Press report.

Only small businesses that have not offered health care before are eligible for the programs, because lawmakers feared employers who already offer health insurance would ditch comprehensive plans for the lower-cost option.