Confused over Oregon's health insurance exchange? Sound-alike business is ready to help [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.]
(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 23--An Oregon insurance agent has reserved a web address and business names to draw customers looking for the state's new health insurance marketplace, hoping to boost business through the public's confusion over impending health law changes.
David Cuttrell, a vice president for Breeze Financial Group in Medford, has taken out two state licenses for business names -- Oregon Health Insurance Exchange and Oregon Insurance Exchange LLC -- that sound a lot like a name the state of Oregon had been using until recently, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation. He is leasing a similar web address, oregonxchange.com, as well.
His firm has been selling health insurance for more than a decade. The new federal health law means "a wholesale change to the whole industry... and what we're doing I think is just positioning ourselves in the marketplace to take advantage of that," he said.
His goal: if someone looks online for "oregon health insurance exchange," they'll be sent to his business. Polls have found a majority of people are confused about the federal changes, including the requirement that state set up insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, to enroll people in coverage.
Last October, this state's marketplace, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation, took on a snappier name: Cover Oregon. In late October of this year people will be able to enroll using coveroregon.com, though earlier in the month they'll have to use agents or other certified assisters.
So Cuttrell says he had the idea to license Oregon Insurance Exchange LLC with the state's corporations division. Two months ago, he took out another license for Oregon Health Insurance Exchange.
"What's going on in the media right now is they're labeling it 'the exchange,'" he says. "The state right now is branding itself as Cover Oregon and we're fully supportive of that. But I don't know how many people are going to associate Cover Oregon with the 'exchange' that they read about. Well, if they associate us with that, so be it."
Cuttrell's website is not ready yet, but will feature "education that's going to mimic what Cover Oregon is doing," he said. It will direct people to Cuttrell and his colleagues at Breeze. He says it will be "pretty clear" that his website is not the state's.
"If we can capitalize on google searches or people coming through us to get insurance, then we're more than happy to provide that service," he said.
Cuttrell says unlike the state's website, his site won't be able to enroll people online. The goal is to connect people with his firm, so agents can help them in-person to shop for insurance using the state's website. He and his colleagues have been trained by Cover Oregon as part of the state's certification process for agents. Certification gives them access to the state marketplace so they can enroll people there, though they may also enroll people in health plans that don't go through Cover Oregon.
The firm also considered the web address oregoninsuranceexchange.com -- only to find someone had already claimed the domain name and wanted $50,000 to lease it for three years, Cuttrell said: "That's not something we're going to do."
-- Nick Budnick
(c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com
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