Begich Proposing More Insurance Options For ACA

Senator Mark Begich is proposing a change to the Affordable Care Act that would make cheaper insurance options available.

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The Expanded Consumer Choice Act would add a new tier of coverage to the range of plans available on the individual market starting in 2015.

Begich wants to call them copper plans. They would be less expensive and have higher deductibles than the bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans currently available.

Begich says he’s been talking with small business owners and individuals who want more affordable coverage options under the new law.

“What I keep hearing from people is make sure the choices are there but those core benefits aren’t taken away, preventive care and making sure people don’t get denied because of preexisting conditions and carrying your kid to the age of 26, very important pieces of the puzzle,” Begich said.

Some consumers would be able to use subsidies to pay for copper plans. The law currently allows people under age 30 to buy higher deductible, catastrophic plans but they aren’t eligible for subsidies.

Begich says having another option is especially important for a state like Alaska, where health care premiums are so high.

The Affordable Care Act requirements and benefits have generally made those premiums even more expensive. Begich says he doesn’t know how cheap the copper plans would be.

“It will definitely be less than the lowest cost bronze plan, there’s no question about that, how much less it’s hard to say yet until they design the detail of it,” Begich said. “But right now the law prevents that from happening so we want to fix that so it allows it to happen.”

Begich sent a letter outlining the idea to President Obama on Tuesday.

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Annie Feidt is the Editor and Producer of Alaska News Nightly, and is also a frequent contributor to the show. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace.

Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49thstate just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon.

afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie