• 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

  • Crime

    20-year-old charged in fatal beating of brother in Venetie

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 29, 17:55

    A 20-year-old man has been charged in the death of his brother after allegedly clubbing him in the head earlier this month. “An autopsy indicated he had cracks to his skull,” the Associated Press reports. “And the left side of his brain had collapsed.” On March 12, Alaska State Troopers were notified that a man […]

  • Crime

    Sudan refugee concerned for his safety after vandalism outside his Spenard home

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 29, 15:34

    Mohammed Abdallai, who moved to Alaska almost five years ago as a refugee, says he is concerned for his safety after the vehicles outside of his home were vandalized. Words like “Get out,” “Go home” and “Leave Alaska,” among others, had been written on his green SUV and another vehicle outside of his residence in […]

  • Crime

    18-year-old injured in East Anchorage house party shooting

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 29, 13:28

    An 18-year-old female was struck in the shoulder by a bullet after shots were fired outside of an East Anchorage house party early Sunday morning. The shooting occurred at about 2:15 a.m., police say. A large, private party was being held at a residence located at the 4500 block of Ninth Avenue, near Lane Street, […]

  • News

    Sail into history with Captain Cook at Anchorage Museum

    by Dave Leval on Mar 29, 10:58

    A statue of him overlooks the body of water that bears his name. He also has a hotel named after him. But how much do you really know about Captain James Cook? Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage is a new exhibition at the Anchorage Museum. A telescope that Cook used during his […]

  • News

    AKNG, AST rescue snowmachiner in crevasse of Eureka Glacier

    by Associated Press on Mar 29, 10:19

    The Alaska Air National Guard and Alaska State Troopers on Saturday came to the aid of a man who fell into a crevasse on Eureka Glacier. Troopers say they took a call just after 5:30 p.m. from 59-year-old Shawn Murphy of North Pole. Murphy reported that his companion, 69-year-old Fairbanks resident Robert McClintock, had wrecked […]

  • Weather

    Weekend weather, March 28

    by KTVA Weather on Mar 28, 18:30

  • News

    Alaska Air National Guard assists in rescue of 2 Saudi pilots from Gulf of Aden

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 18:20

    Airmen from the Alaska Air National Guard, currently deployed to Djibouti, Africa, assisted in the rescue of two Saudi pilots from the Gulf of Aden on Friday. The pilots were rescued off the coast of Yemen after they ejected from their F-15 aircraft, according to various news outlets. Approximately 120 Alaska Air National guardsmen from the […]

  • News

    16 Black Hawk helicopters back in Alaska, ready to help with civilian emergencies

    by Associated Press on Mar 28, 15:20

    Sixteen Army Black Hawk helicopters are back in Alaska and ready to help with civilian medical emergencies after spending nine months in Afghanistan. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1MgUB22 ) reports the military helicopters supplement Alaska’s civilian fleet of about two dozen medical helicopters operated by private companies including Life Flight, Life Med and Guardian. In […]