By Tara Bannow

The Bulletin

Oregon’s insurance regulators mostly echoed the sentiments of national health policy experts in saying it’s difficult to predict the impact President Trump’s executive order will have in the state.

One thing is for sure: The order won’t affect open enrollment into 2018 individual and small group health insurance policies through, which begins Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.

“Don’t let the news around this order change your plans when it comes to getting insurance for you and your family for next year,” said Jake Sunderland, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. “That’s the absolute most important thing we have to say.”

Today, association health plans, like large group plans, don’t have to follow state rules, nor do they need to cover the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits. If any group of employers can form association health plans, as could eventually be the case under the order, it may mean more employers have insurance that’s not regulated at the state level, Sunderland said.

“Our concern, then, is that there might be a larger population of people who do not have access to local consumer protection from our agency, and that can make a big difference to people,” he said.

About 148,000 Oregonians are enrolled in a group of plans that includes association health plans, according to DCBS.

Oregon law allows residents to buy association health plans from insurers based in other states. If they do, those plans don’t have the consumer advocacy protections afforded to plans purchased from Oregon-based insurers, such as DCBS’s complaint resolution service, Sunderland said.

The order also could potentially allow short-term health plans to extend for a full year. Currently, they can only last about three months.

The potential for more people to enroll in those plans concerns Sunderland, as he warned they aren’t required to cover things like pre-exisiting conditions or prescription drugs.

About 8,800 Oregonians have the plans.

— Reporter: 541-383-0304,