Alaska health insurance tips


Alaska insurance law and regulation

The Alaska Department of Insurance Web site contains information about  individual health insurance.

The state insurance department can be reached by telephone at (907) 465-2515 or by mail at PO Box 110805, Juneau AK 99811. The state children’s health insurance plan (CHIP) Web site is Alaska Denali KidCare.

News that affects your health insurance and planning

May 24, 2019 – Status of alternative non-ACA health plans: Alaska does not require individuals to maintain adequate health coverage and permits non-ACA compliant plans. The state provides no premium or cost-sharing subsidies for individual market coverage, permits insurers to sell non-compliant transitional policies in the individual market and does not limit the sale of short-term coverage more strictly than the federal government. Since 2018, Alaska operates an individual market reinsurance program supported by an ACA innovation waiver that is expected to reduce individual insurance premiums by 20%.

April 19, 2019 – The state of Alaska increased its holding of Torchmark, a private health insurance company stock shortly after the state committed to a plan to shift the states’ low income individuals to from public Medicaid to private insurers.

March 1, 2019 – Gov. Dunleavy’s proposed state budget for Alaska includes a 30-percent budget cut to Medicaid. This is expected to increase uncompensated care costs that are distributed by hospitals to those with health insurance. Alaska Legislative Research Services predicts that a repeal of expansion could result in a 3 to 17 percent increase in commercial health insurance premiums.

The history of health care planning in Alaska (Information is outdated and links may be expired)

2/11/ 2014 Professional support for any health care reform issue is available free of charge through an arrangement with OnlineNavigator. All online inquiries are handled personally by Tony Novak, CPA. Online support is available through a number of popular social media channels including Facebook and Google+ as well as e-mail. Telephone support for insurance enrollment is available through Members Insurance Exchange at (800) 609-0683.

7/26/2013 Affordable Smart Term Life Insurance is now available to most Alaska residents from age 20 through 60 directly online with no physical exam, agent appointment or telephone verification. Most policies are issued on the same day with coverage amounts of $25,000 up to $350,000. The level premium life insurance is available for terms of 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. Sample rates for $150,000 coverage for a preferred risk male age 30, non-tobacco $30.85 per month; tobacco user $49.55 per month. A preferred risk female age 30 non-tobacco user would be $26.49 per month and a tobacco user would be $40.96 per month. Rates are higher for older applicants and lower health risks as described online. Pricing is based on input you provide about your medical history but, unlike most other life insurers, does not consider family medical history. Coverage is issued by innovative National Life Group, rated “A” by A.M. Best Company for 2013.

2/22/2013 This page was updated to include a link to the insurance plan that will be used to determine specific “essential health benefits” for insurance that qualified for 2014 federal tax purposes. Also, a link to additional covered benefits required by state law. Non-qualified insurance is likely to continue to be available at a lower cost that does not include these benefits nor qualify for federal tax purposes.

1/1/2013 Alaska’s health insurance plans now provide coverage for the cost of treating autism. The new coverage takes effect despite lack of support from the Governor’s office. The cost of this coverage is estimated to be less than 2% of total health care costs, according to spokespersons from the state’s largest insurers. Earlier estimates of the cost of autism predicted that premiums would rise by more than 3% per year due to this expansion of benefits. Providers emphasize that the diagnosis and cost of treatment of autism are still on the rise, so the true cost is not yet known. In other comparable cases where insurance coverage was expanded, the number of patients diagnosed and treated increase.

7/18/2012 Alaska joined a growing number of states that have declined to implement a state-run health insurance exchange. Gov. Sean Parnell cited the uncertainty regarding the implementation of heath reform law as the primary reason for abandoning the insurance exchange project. Alaska had previously received a federal grant of $1 million to explore health insurance options. There are likely to be a strong commercial health insurance exchange in the state and OnlineNavigator is available on request to serve the same role as a government-appointed insurance navigator.

6/26/2012 Alaska settled a large claim by the federal government for violation of federal privacy of medical information laws related to the state’s Medicaid patients. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the state’s Medicaid agency, has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) $1,700,000 to settle possible violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule. Alaska has also agreed to take corrective action to properly safeguard the electronic protected health information of their Medicaid beneficiaries. Alaskans are often presumed to hold an independent or libertarian attitude with regard to federal laws and so the state’s taxpayers may not regard this huge payment to the federal government with favor.

5/8/2012 Alaska legislators have passed an autism coverage mandate and specialty pharmacy legislation. The law will cause an increase in health insurance premiums for 2013 although the amount is not known. Anticipating substantial health insurance cost increases in the future, the state also is seeking federal approval to increase its rate review threshold from 10 percent to 17 percent.

2/1/2012 The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, a division of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)reported that as of June 30, 2011 Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska is the state’s largest health insurance provider and as such, earns the right to set the benchmark for the development of the state’s essential benefit plans to debut in 2014 under health reform law.

2/12/2011 With dozens of health plans choices available online offering a wide range of pricing and benefits, how do you find the best combination of price and benefits? Celtic Insurance realizes that the choices can be overwhelming; the company offers more than 40 possible health plan designs in many parts of the United States. A new feature called “Help Me Choose” lets users easily and quickly select the benefits they value most and narrows the list down to a few of the best choices. No personal information is required other than zip code and date of birth.

2/8/2011 The legislation proposing to implement the state’s health insurance exchange closely resembles model developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners except that insurance companies would have to be consulted for certain changes that the exchange may consider. The exchange will be run by a board of 12 governor-appointed members representing insurance agents, medical service providers and consumers, insurance companies labor unions and employers. The proposal led by Senator Hollis French is expected to be approved by the legislature largely as proposed.

12/28/2010 The state’s pre-existing condition insurance plan attracted only 12 Alaska residents this year despite the government-subsidized premium. This plan provides a health coverage option for consumers who have been uninsured for at least six months, have a pre-existing condition or have been denied health coverage because of their health condition, and are a U.S. citizen or are residing here legally. The federal government pays most of the premium cost. The plan was initially criticized for excessive taxpayer costs but the overall lack of public interest in this insurance was not anticipated.

12/18/2010 Alaska was one of two states not participating in a conference on the development of government-run health insurance exchange under the American Health Benefit Exchange Model Act. Minnesota’s governor (the other state not participating) said that it was a waste of taxpayer money. The meeting reportedly did not address the role of the commercial health insurance exchanges on the implementation of new competing government systems. The model act does not address inter-state insurance exchange proposals nor insurance sales across state lines. Federal officials admitted that they may not be able to provide further guidance until 2012. Meanwhile, most states are motivated to continue to meet requirements to obtain additional funding promised by the federal government for the establishment of insurance exchange by 2014. Freedom Benefits has previously voiced the opinion that the huge amount of money being spent to set up alternate insurance sales system technologies could be better used providing health benefits to the public. We proposed on the Universal Health Insurance blog that adequate commercial insurance sales systems are already in place that could be modified in a public/private partnership to make health insurance more affordable.

5/10/2010 Diabetes Coverage: A new resource to help with health insurance for diabetics in Alaska is available.