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LO agency clears up confusion on Affordable Care Act

The Insurance Store is connecting people with right health coverage

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Victoria Bramley, left, and Peggy Lawson have formed a partnership in Lake Oswego that clears up mysteries about purchasing healthcare insurance policies.

The controversy over the Affordable Care Act is far from over and may never go away.

But the confusion over the ACA (also known as Obamacare) is being cleared up by insurance agencies like the Insurance Store in Lake Oswego.

That was not the case a year ago, with the chaos afflicting Cover Oregon, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

“It wasn’t just people shopping for health care insurance,” said Victoria Bramley, co-owner of the Insurance Store. “It was difficult for insurance agencies, too. We were taken for a ride by the Cover Oregon mess. There was zero money coming in, and we didn’t know from one day to the next what rules to follow.”

Now Bramley and her partner, Peggy Lawson, are much more confident about guiding those seeking health insurance — explaining which policies offer tax credits or subsidies under the ACA, which health insurance policy is best suited for their needs and whether that policy is part of the ACA health care insurance exchange or not.

That guidance is helping more and more area health insurance shoppers. Bramley and Lawson’s agency has recently received thousands of contacts regarding buying health insurance, and Bramley alone has received 450 contacts just from the state of Oregon.

The truth is, there are so many options offered that “we don’t have to fit people into a certain box. We offer all of the boxes,” Bramley said.

After a year of being fearful of buying insurance under the new health insurance legislation, Bramley said, “people are desperately seeking help.”

“We want to help people with this new experience,” Lawson said. “So they can answer the question, ‘Why did you make that decision?’”

When it comes to helping people make that decision, Bramley and Lawson offer a great one-two punch. Bramley has many years’ experience as a health insurance agent, including working with Medicare coverage. Lawson offers just as strong a background in the health care field, with her many years as a nurse.

“That is why I wanted to partner with Peggy,” Bramley said. “We want to hear your stories and present your options. If we don’t have the answers we also give referrals, to the state, social workers, attorneys, financial managers, and case managers. We want to focus on the whole person.”

Under federal law, agents of the Insurance Store cannot even ask a policy shopper any questions regarding their own health. Yet these shoppers usually reveal their health problems themselves — especially diabetes. Given that opening, Bramley and Lawson can guide them to the best policies on diabetes care.

The Insurance Store investigates a wide variety of topics related to health care insurance — not just the cost, but also such matters as doctors, medications and hospitals.

“We want to broaden the picture,” Lawson said. “We add up all of the factors involved. We want to know what your health care coverage will look like a year from now.”

In addition, Bramley and Lawson want to reduce “the fear on Main Street” about purchasing the right health care insurance by informing people there is a way out of their confusion, because expert guidance is available.

In explaining this, Bramley wants to make a couple of things clear.

“There are no signs pointing people where to go for advice,” she said. “People go to social workers, the state and their friends. They often get the wrong information because they’re afraid to go to an agency. They should know they do not have to pay a fee to an agency. We get our fees from the government, the state and insurance carriers. We also do pro bono work to help the very poor.”

The Insurance Store is located at 252 A Ave., Suite 200. For more information, go to the website insurancestores.com or call the agency’s Lake Oswego office at 503-360-9844.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or cnewell@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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