Premera Alaska Files For Another Large Rate Increase

Premera Alaska is asking the state and federal government to approve an average rate increase of 39 percent for its Affordable Care Act health insurance plans in the state for 2016. That follows a 37 percent that was approved for 2015.

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The company says a small number of customers with complex medical problems are filing millions of dollars in claims that can’t be absorbed by the small size of the insurance pool in Alaska. Premera has about 8,000 members on Affordable Care Act plans in the state.

Premera spokesperson Eric Earling says the company is working with the state of Alaska to develop a reinsurance program that would help spread the risk of expensive claims.

“And that would help stabilize the market so that consumers are not potentially vulnerable to these significant rate increase requests, whether it’s from Premera or one of our competitors,” he says.

Many Premera members who buy insurance on Healthcare.gov qualify for subsidies that will help lesson the impact of any increase.

Moda Health, the other insurer who offers health plans on the federal exchange in Alaska, has filed for an average rate increase of about 22 percent.

The state will make its decision by August 25th.

This story is part of a reporting partnership between APRN, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

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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