HB 374 ensures no loss of health insurance coverage

Legislation signed into law on July 18 by Gov. Bill Walker ensures Alaskans will not have to pay more in health insurance premiums.

House Bill 374, approved with near unanimous support during the 29th Alaska Legislature, will provide some 23,000 Alaskans insured through the private marketplace with relief from large premium hikes while the state works to bring more insurers into the state, Walker said.
Over the last two years, insurance premiums in the individual market have increased nearly 80 percent.

Three health care insurers have left Alaska since 2015, and Premera, the remaining insurer told state officials 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 residents, or have had to leave the state altogether, leaving many with no health care insurance options.
Premera announced that as a result of the bill’s passage, rates will increase about 10 percent in 2017, down significantly from a 37-pecent increase in 2015 and a 39-percent increase in 2016.

HB 374 also authorizes the state Division of Insurance to seek a Section 1332 waiver from the federal government in order to administer the Affordable Care Act differently in Alaska. Insurance Division Director Lori Wing-Heier said without this fix the problem would have cost the state more than $200 million next year.

Consumers with questions may contact the Division of Insurance consumer service specialists at 1-907-269-7900 or 1-800-INSURAk or by email at insurance@alaska.gov