• 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

  • Lifestyle

    FDA unveils new regulations on e-cigarettes

    by CBS News on May 05, 18:57

    Hundreds of electronic cigarette brands will have to undergo federal review to stay on the market under new rules that have the potential to upend a multi-billion dollar industry attempting to position itself as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday released long-awaited rules that bring the burgeoning industry under federal oversight. […]

  • Politics

    Legislature passes bill limiting who can teach sex education

    by Associated Press on May 05, 17:27

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The Alaska Legislature has passed an education bill that limits who can teach sex education in public schools. Passage came Thursday after the House revived the measure, rescinding a vote from a day earlier in which the bill had failed. This time, the measure narrowly passed. The bill, from Rep. Wes […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Who does the new ASD superintendent remind you of?

    by John Tracy on May 05, 17:13

    As Alaskans, we pride ourselves on shopping local, but let’s be honest — we don’t always do it. That¹s why I¹d like to congratulate the Anchorage School District for shopping local and hiring Dr. Deena Paramo as the next superintendent. I’ve met Paramo many times. Not enough time to develop an understanding of her professional […]

  • Crime

    Man charged with murder in 2015 East Anchorage slaying

    by KTVA 11 News on May 05, 16:39

    A 29-year-old Eagle River man has been charged in the East Anchorage slaying of a 19-year-old man last year Jarre Lee was indicted Wednesday on first-degree murder and third-degree weapons charges. According to a release from the District Attorney’s Office, he “intentionally” killed Preston Perdomo on Aug. 3, 2015. Perdomo was fatally shot multiple times […]

  • News

    Helicopter pilot injured in crash near Juneau’s Norris Glacier

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 05, 16:31

    An Era helicopter with a single occupant crashed Thursday afternoon near the base of the Norris Glacier outside of Juneau. An electronic alert was sent to the Coast Guard’s 17th District Command Center in Juneau, according to spokesperson Kip Wadlow. “Shortly after we noticed that electronic signal going off, we were contacted by Era helicopters who […]

  • Politics

    Gov. Walker attends first meeting of new tribal advisory council

    by Associated Press on May 05, 12:06

    Gov. Bill Walker has attended the first meeting of the new Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council, a panel of Alaska Native leaders established by his administration. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott also attended the Thursday morning meeting in Anchorage. Afterward, Walker introduced members of the 11-member council at a press conference. Participants say the panel has been […]

  • Weather

    Garden Report: Hardening off pampered plants

    by Rachael Penton on May 05, 11:49

    Temperatures in Alaska are warming, and the days are growing longer. However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to put your plants outside. After plants spend the winter months being “pampered” in greenhouses or inside homes, they need time to readjust to the elements. Hardening off plants is the process of getting them acclimated to outside […]

  • News

    Cruise ship passengers using Ketchikan homeless shelter to get free food, coffee

    by Associated Press on May 05, 9:25

    Tourists have been hanging out at a Ketchikan homeless shelter to get free coffee and a bite to eat, but an employee of the shelter says few of the cruise ship passengers make a donation. The Ketchikan Daily News reports the shelter operated by First City Homeless Services relies on donations and funding from the […]