HB 374 stabilizes health
June 06, 2016
(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Members of the 29th Alaska Legislature were thanked by Governor Bill Walker for their near-unanimous support Saturday of HB 374, which the governor introduced to ensure Alaskans do not have to pay more in health insurance premiums.
“Over the past two years, my team and I have received hundreds of calls and emails from Alaskans who say health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This legislation will provide relief from substantial premium increases for 23,000 Alaskans who are insured through the private marketplace as we continue work to bring more insurers into Alaska.”
In the past two years, insurance premiums in the individual market have increased almost 80 percent—the equivalent of an additional mortgage for many families. Three health care insurers have left Alaska since 2015. The remaining insurer told the state it cannot commit to continuing in the market, due to the high cost of providing care for a small population with rare and costly medical conditions. Without relief, the insurer would have had to pass on the cost to 23,000 Alaskans - or would have had to pull out of the state altogether, leaving those Alaskans without healthcare insurance options.
HB 374 establishes a state health insurance fund through the Alaska Comprehensive Health Insurance Association to stabilize rates, and aims to convince additional insurers to serve Alaskans in the individual healthcare market. Instead of spreading the cost of the claims to the 23,000 Alaskans enrolled in the market, the cost would be paid through the insurance premium tax all insurance companies operating in the state already pay.
“Had this problem not been addressed this year, it would have cost the state more than $200 million next year,” said Lori Wing-Heier, Division of Insurance Director. “Even with the two-year sunset provision, we will work on other sources of funding to raise the money needed for the reinsurance program.”
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Source of News:
Office of Gov. Bill Walker
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