• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 58s

Obama’s promise to keep old health plans meets uncertainty in Alaska

By KTVA Alaska 2:16 AM November 16, 2013

President allows insurers to reinstate canceled policies, but state Division of Insurance unsure if it will take him up on the offer

ANCHORAGE – It’s a promise President Barack Obama made often about the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare: “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”

The president on Thursday attempted to make good on that promise, by allowing insurance companies the option to keep offering plans — that would have otherwise been canceled — through 2014. It was unclear, however, if Alaskans who lost their coverage will be able to go back to their old plans.

Division of Insurance Director Bret Kolb said in a phone interview Thursday that it’s too early to know how the state will officially respond to the change. He said the division is looking into questions of compliance at both the state and federal levels, and just “doesn’t know” if Alaska will allow insurers to revive canceled policies.

In an email, Kolb wrote that the division saw “more than 9,000” plans canceled as a result of new health care laws. For the most part, cancelations happened when old plans didn’t offer the essential health benefits required under the Affordable Care Act. Those benefits include coverage for prescription medications, mental health services, trips to the emergency room and more.

Providers looking to offer previously canceled plans will have to make clear what the plans don’t cover. They’ll also have to let consumers know what other options are available in the federal marketplace atHealthCare.gov.

At end of 2012, Kolb wrote that the state Division of Insurance had 14,500 people covered under individual policies, and more than 17,000 people under small group policies, regulated by the state. (Many other private insurance plans are not state regulated). The 9,000 cancelations were all from individual policyholders.

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield is the state’s largest insurer. They offered about 9,200 individual policies in Alaska, 5,400 of which were canceled. The remaining 3,800 were “grandfathered in” to the new laws.

Each state can choose whether or not they’ll let canceled plans be reinstated. In Washington state, the message was a resounding “no.” Plans canceled there will stay canceled.

But on Thursday that decision had not yet been made in Alaska. If Alaskans want insurance by the start of the new year, they’ll have to enroll in a program — on the federal HealthCare.gov website or with another insurer — by Dec. 15. Open enrollment on the federal marketplace remains open through the end of March.

Enroll Alaska is a private insurance broker, working as a liaison between insurance companies and individuals. The company also works to help people and families choose insurance plans, whether they’re offered on or off the federal exchange.

Tyann Boling, the company’s COO, said Thursday that a canceled plan is a chance for people to re-examine their options.

“Individuals who had insurance policies that were canceled, there’s an opportunity there,” she said. “That individual may have been qualified for immediate tax subsidies, and they wouldn’t know that unless they contacted us or went through HealthCare.gov.”

Boling said knowing what kind of plans are being offered — and just how much federal assistance there may be to help pay for them — can help people choose.

“Regardless of what the Division of Insurance [decides], for Enroll Alaska, we can still work with individuals to see if they qualify for that immediate tax subsidy, that cash in hand, to pay for their insurance,” she said. “Then we would encourage them to enroll in a plan.”

Latest Stories

  • DayBreak

    Van Gogh comes to life at the Anchorage Museum

    by Daybreak Staff on Oct 09, 11:32

    A new exhibit at the Anchorage Museum brings the work of famed painter Vincent Van Gogh to life. “Van Gogh Alive – The Experience” runs from Friday, October 9, 2015 to January 10, 2016. Using state-of-the-art multimedia technology, and set to an “evocative classical score,” Van Gogh’s paintings are projected onto massive screens throughout the […]

  • News

    Alaska Permanent Fund Corp names new CEO

    by Associated Press on Oct 09, 11:07

    Angela Rodell has been selected to be the new CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. The corporation’s board voted unanimously Friday to offer Rodell the job. The corporation says the selection is contingent upon the successful negotiation of a salary and benefits package. Rodell served as a Revenue commissioner under Gov. Sean Parnell and […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: Vicious Mammals

    by Daybreak Staff on Oct 09, 10:10

    “Junkyard” Jesse Jack, Dick Nitrous, CJ Elliott and Dale Payne make up the rock band Vicious Mammals. Hailing from Wasilla, the band has earned comparisons to groups like AC/DC and the New York Dolls. In July they released their debut album, “Switchblade Ballerina.” When asked how the band came up with their name, Jack says […]

  • Crime

    One person hospitalized following early morning shooting in Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 09, 9:02

    Anchorage police are investigating an early morning shooting near Dimond Blvd. and Arctic Blvd. that left one person hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Dispatchers received word of a disturbance at a business near W. 64th St. and C St. just before 3 a.m. Friday morning, according to a release from the Anchorage Police Department. Officers were […]

  • Sports

    ABL adjusts as Alaska Goldpanners exit league

    by Dave Goldman on Oct 09, 7:52

    The show must go on. And it will. In this case, that show is the Alaska Baseball League, which will enter its 42nd summer season in 2016.  But it will enter those warm nights shorthanded. Last month, the Alaska Goldpanners decided to leave the league to play other independent baseball teams from across the country. The move was […]

  • News

    Alaska Marine Highway System cuts ferry terminal positions

    by Associated Press on Oct 09, 6:46

    The Alaska Marine Highway System has cut 20 shore positions as officials deal with a scaled back budget. The Ketchikan Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1hu1Llv ) that in the past week, 14 people have been laid off in the ferry system, and other vacant positions were also cut. Alaska Department of Transportation spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says […]

  • News

    Anchorage woman targeted by multiple phone scams receives international call fees

    by Daniella Rivera on Oct 09, 0:24

    It’s Permanent Fund Dividend time for Alaskans, and for scammers. They know you’ve just received a check for $2,072 and want to cash in on your dividend. One Anchorage woman says she receives several phone calls from multiple different scammers, sometimes daily. She says the callers are harassing her, and interacting with one of them […]

  • Lifestyle

    Research cruise investigates Bering Sea warm spell

    by Hannah Colton/KDLG on Oct 08, 22:05

    On Tuesday, researchers wrapped up a month-long cruise through the unusually warm waters of the Bering Sea. They’re investigating how the second year of a warming pattern is affecting the ecosystem, including the nation’s largest fishery, Pollock. Onboard the research vessel Oscar Dyson, a dozen scientists have been trading 12-hour shifts as the ship traces […]