This week Cover Oregon, our state's health insurance exchange, hit an important milestone. Twenty-two health plans were approved to offer individual, dental or small group coverage next year through the exchange. This is an important step moving towards October when enrollment opens for coverage that will start in January 2014. The next step for the plans will be to submit their premiums and benefit packages to the Oregon Insurance Division for review by the end of this month. Last week the The Oregonian wrote a story about Cover Oregon and what it's going to take to be up and running by October.
Meanwhile, at several locations around the state the labor-management Public Employees' Benefit Board is holding evening meetings to begin talking about 2015. If you are near Salem or Portland next week, I encourage you to attend. You can find the schedule and location on the PEBB website.
The Board wants to hear ideas from PEBB members about how we as a state can hold health plans more accountable for improving our health and slowing the skyrocketing costs of health care. We know that there is up to 30% waste and inefficiency in the health care system, and those are dollars we can't afford to let slip away any longer.
This week I also joined Mike Bonetto, Governor Kitzhaber's health policy advisor, at the Statesman Journal to give an update on health care reform in Oregon. We talked about the coming changes in 2014, how the ideas behind coordinated care can help improve health and lower costs outside of the coordinated care organizations, and the importance of using plain language when talking about health care. You can watch a video of our conversation on the Statesman Journal's website.
I know everyone at OHA, Cover Oregon, and the Insurance Division is working very hard to get ready for 2014. We are moving forward with a laser-like focus to make health care more affordable and make it possible for at least 95 percent of Oregonians to have health care coverage by 2016. Years from now we will look back on these days and be proud we were all a part of it.