• 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

    Ford recalls 433K cars because of software problem

    by Associated Press on Jul 03, 7:38

    Ford is recalling 433,000 vehicles, including 2015 Focus, C-MAX and Escape models, because of a software problem that could keep their engines running after drivers try to shut them down. Ford Motor Co. says there is a flaw in the body control module software in the vehicles. As a result of the problem, the engine […]

  • News

    ‘Lost’ couple found at Sitka circus

    by Associated Press on Jul 03, 7:29

    A search for a California couple whose Sitka bed-and-breakfast host reported them missing came to a happy end when police discovered the couple had been at the circus. The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1epnI43) Sitka Fire Department search and rescue Capt. Lance Ewers says the couple was last seen by their B&B host Tuesday morning […]

  • News

    Fire behavior expert uses science and technology to determine burn ban

    by Kate McPherson on Jul 03, 0:04

    Fire officials don’t just look out of their window and decide whether or not to declare a burn ban. “It’s based on real science and good data,” said John See, forester with the Anchorage Fire Department. A weather station in Rabbit Creek is one of four in Anchorage collecting data used by the fire department. […]

  • News

    Burn bans in some places lifted, allowing some campfires over the holiday weekend

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 02, 21:33

    Good news for campers heading to the Mat-Su Valley this weekend: State parks announced today that several campfire bans in the area have been relaxed. Big Lake Recreation Area camp host Karen Green and her husband may need to order more firewood. Effective immediately campfires will be allowed at their campground, according to state park officials who made […]

  • News

    31 Alaska residents become U.S. citizens

    by Jacquie Slater on Jul 02, 21:08

    At a naturalization ceremony held on Thursday at the Federal Courthouse in Anchorage, 31 people took the Oath of Allegiance and officially became U.S. citizens. The ceremony was presided over by Judge Gary Spraker. In all, 17 countries were represented in the ceremony, including Colombia, the Philippines, Canada, England and Ethiopia. Before becoming citizens, all […]

  • News

    Groups give out festive flags for 4th of July

    by Heather Hintze on Jul 02, 20:49

    Residents in the Jewel Lake area woke up Thursday morning to find their neighborhoods peppered with patriotism. “I kind of like it when people come out and thank us for putting the flags out every year,” said Gavin Henderson. He was up bright and early to help hand out American flags for the Fourth of […]

  • News

    ‘Downtown Dog Ambassador’ brings a smile to visitors

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jul 02, 20:24

    Peter Ferrara is used to turning heads when he walks in downtown Anchorage. After all, it’s not every day you see a man walking up to a dozen dogs at once, and greeting strangers as he goes. Ferrara wears a shirt that says “Downtown Dog Ambassador.” It’s a title he got a few years back from […]

  • News

    Connors Lake loons have livestreamed birth

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jul 02, 17:50

    A livestreaming loon cam on an Anchorage lake is showing two proud parents — a Pacific Loon chick hatched Monday on Connors Lake, where the loon cam is trained, according to Jean Tam. Tam has operated the loon cam since 2003. She says this year’s birth is especially exciting since last year the same loon […]