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Affordable Care Act Anniversary

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The Affordable Care Act celebrates its third birthday on Monday. Experts in Oregon say patients are already feeling the changes, and more are on the way.

Health care experts are calling it a tipping point for Oregon. Three years into the Affordable Care Act, the state is getting ready to launch its online health exchange. Experts say that around 600,000 people in the state will receive insurance as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act. Many of those people will be through that health exchange, called “Cover Oregon”.

The “Cover Oregon” website launches in October. The health exchange and insurance marketplace is just one part of how the state is following the Affordable Care Act. In addition to eliminating pre-existing conditions and mandating insurance, the act calls for new payment and treatment models. Experts in the state say they are essentially re-writing the rules in terms of how people get coverage, and that could mean big changes ahead.

“What we have coming in front of us is a disruption, and any time that something changes quite dramatically, you always want to know ‘first of all, how does it affect me?'” said Bill Thorndike, Chair of Asante Health System.

Thorndike, who helps to oversee the planning of the Cover Oregon exchange, says patients are already seeing better preventive treatment and more control over how they receive treatment, but it isn’t without its challenges. Thorndike says there could be more up-front costs for treatment as changes take effect. He also says that small business owners will need to educate themselves about new insurance options going forward.