Moda exits Alaska’s individual health insurance market

Moda Health says it’s pulling out of the individual market in the state. The company is one only two insurers who sell individual health insurance plans in Alaska.

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The statement from the company comes after the state of Oregon placed Moda under supervision late Wednesday. In a press release, Oregon officials say they took the action becauseof the company’s “excessive operating losses.”

Alaska’s director of insurance Lori Wing-Heier followed suit with a similar order Thursday. But she says the company’s CEO is telling her he wants to work to keep individual members in Alaska.

“It has been our understanding, and our commitment to Moda to work with them, and to give them time to raise the capital to continue in the market if they can raise the capital. So the comments they’re exiting are as perplexing to us as they are to others that are reading him.”

The statement released by Moda Vice President Jonathan Nicholas is attributed to CEO Robert Gootee. It reads: “At the direction of the Insurance Commissioners in both Oregon and Alaska, we have resolved to exit the Individual ACA marketplace in both states.”

Lori Wing-Heier estimates the company has about 10,000 individual members in Alaska and another 7,000 members on the small-group market. The division of insurance is working to get a count of Moda members covered by large companies throughout the state.

Wing-Heier says the division has been aware of the financial trouble at Moda and they’ve watching the company closely:

“We knew that they had received a significant infusion of capital in the third quarter that had basically righted the ship, we had thought. But unfortunately it was not enough to overcome the challenges they were facing.”

Moda has six days to prove it has enough reserve funds to continue operating in Oregon and Alaska. Wing-Heier says she’s optimistic the company can stay in business, but says it will be a challenge.

“Its a large number they’re going to have to come up with and it’s a short time frame.”

The open enrollment period for individual plans on HealthCare.gov runs through January 31st. The state is asking people who enroll in the next few days to choose Premera Alaska plans. Premera, the only other insurer on the individual market, says it’s committed to serving Alaska and ready to accept new members from Moda. The company says rates will not change.

The state says HealthCare.gov will hold a special open enrollment period after January 31st to accommodate Alaska customers if necessary.

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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