More than five thousand Alaskans have signed up for health insurance on the federal marketplace. The new numbers released today include enrollments through the beginning of the month and show a 30% jump since the end of the December.
Tyann Boling is CFO of Enroll Alaska. She says she’s seeing at least a small increase in enrollments, even in the last week. Still, Boling is not impressed:
“You know I think it’s a far cry from what we were hoping for for the state of Alaska.”
Boling hoped the state would sign up 20 thousand people for health insurance by the end of the year. She thinks the troubled roll out of healthcare.gov made that difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish. Boling also says there are still a lot of Alaskans who don’t know about the Affordable Care Act:
“That’s always been our greatest challenge. I think we’ve done okay with getting the message out about us in the Anchorage area and some of our lager communities. But truly the challenge is to get people to understand what it means to them, what the benefit is for them and just to have them call to get a consultation.”
The federal report on enrollment includes figures for Medicaid. Alaska Governor Sean Parnell decided not to expand Medicaid in the state. But healthcare.gov has determined about 2,500 Alaskans are eligible for existing Medicaid coverage.
Ron Kreher directs the Division of Public Assistance. He says the number of Alaskans discovering they qualify for Medicaid is in line with what the department was anticipating. He’s pleased more low income Alaskans are going to get the healthcare they need:
“It matters a great deal. It means there’s roughly another 2,500 Alaskans that are going to receive healthcare service and access to healthcare that they many well not have had previously.”
Kreher says about 150,000 Alaskans are covered through Medicaid.
The open enrollment period for signing up for insurance on healthcare.gov lasts through March 31st. It’s a deadline Alaskans should know well, since it’s also the date Permanent Fund Dividend Applications are due.