Premera Won’t Increase Rates On Plan Extensions

Premera Alaska won’t increase premium rates for Alaskans who decide to extend their plans for another year.

The company previously had to cancel plans that didn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act for 5,400 members in the state.

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Last month, President Obama allowed insurance companies to continue offering those plans through 2014.

Premera Alaska spokesperson Eric Earling says the company decided to forego the normal rate increases, given the short timeline.

“Just made more sense to continue plans at their current rate so the only time if a members on an individual plan that’s being extended, that they would see their rate change is if they move into a new age band for the year,” Earling said. “Otherwise their rate would stay the same as long as they stay on it through 2014.”

Earling says members will automatically stay on their current plans, unless they call Premera to cancel. He says members can decide to buy an Affordable Care Act plan instead on the healthcare.gov marketplace anytime before March 31. That’s the only way to qualify for a subsidy to purchase insurance. Earling says there’s no way to predict how many people will go that route.

“The big question is, is someone eligible for a subsidy?” Earling said. “And if they’re eligible for a subsidy they may want to go to the exchange to buy one of the new plans to access that subsidy. But for those folks that aren’t eligible for a subsidy or very little subsidy, staying on their current plan might make the most financial sense.”

Moda Health is also planning to extend plans for customers who had their insurance canceled under the Affordable Care Act. The company says it doesn’t know yet if rates will increase.

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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