Welcome to Obamacare, Oregon: 'Huge concerns for our individuals'

EUGENE, Ore. - Ready or not, national health care reform is coming to Oregon.

The program is called Cover Oregon, and no doubt you've seen or heard the catchy ads.

But what does it mean for you?

That depends on who you are.

Cover Oregon is the health insurance exchange set up by the state to meet the mandates of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, if you prefer).

If you buy health insurance on your own or through a broker - or you have no health insurance at all - you have some decisions to make.

Independent insurance brokers like Skylar Jones of Eugene are waiting to hear from you.

He's just set up a new venture called Oregon Covered.

"What we're doing is we're helping individuals," Jones said. "We're setting up enrollment meetings. We analyze their situation from start to finish."

Cover Oregon officials said the health exchange is like a shopping cart: You will be able to pick from 5 to 10 insurance companies and coverage options - and see if you qualify for tax subsidies.

However, another Eugene insurance consultant said mandates come with a cost.

"Better benefits always seem like a good idea but any time better benefits are mandated, you better pull out your checkbook," said Gordon Groshong of WHA Insurance of Eugene.

Groshong said with higher costs, many small business owners will face tough decisions on whether to keep their group coverage intact, "or they're going to offer employee-only coverage or they're going to get rid of group health insurance altogether," Groshong said.

Another option is go online to the Cover Oregon website and go through the steps yourself, but Groshong said this do-it-yourself option won't be available until the middle of October.

Jones said there's no rush for people to sign up, as the enrollment period will last through next March.

He just hopes the promised subsidies are enough to help his clients.

"In some of my individual clients we're seeing 100 to 200 percent cost increases, and that causes some huge concerns for our individuals," he said.

Visit for more on the insurance exchange.