Alaska Insurers Report Marketplace Enrollment Numbers

Nearly one month after the federally run health insurance marketplace launched, just 35 Alaskans have been able to sign up for plans.

That’s according to the two insurers offering plans on the marketplace, Premera Alaska and Moda Health.

Significant technical problems have plagued the site since it went live on Oct. 1. An Obama administration contractor says it hopes to have it working smoothly by the end of November.

Premera Alaska President Jeff Davis says his company had 14 marketplace enrollees as of last Friday, just a trickle compared to what the company was prepared for.

“We expect tens of thousands, that was our projection coming into this,” Davis said. “So that kind of pent up demand, we hope will come through, but it’s going to be quite a rush at the last minute and we’re concerned about the customer service experience that that provides and our ability to get ID cards out and just to have such a compressed time frame.”

Insurer Moda Health was reporting 21 enrollees as of last Wednesday.

Enroll Alaska, the group of insurance agents working to sign Alaskans up for Affordable Care Act plans successfully guided three people through the process before suspending enrollments. Joshua Weinstein who is a benefits consultant with the group, says the technical problems have been frustrating:

“Those challenges have really impeded our ability to land people in the final product which is quality, affordable health care,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein says the marketplace isn’t correctly calculating the subsidies many Alaskans qualify for to help pay for health insurance. He says Enroll Alaska has gone to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for answers.

“Director Susan Johnson who’s a regional director for Health and Human Services at the federal level is aware that there is an error and she’s indicated that she’s pushing it up the stream to Washington folks, so they’re in the know,” Weinstein said.

Enroll Alaska hopes to have the subsidy problem fixed soon. Weinstein says the group has a list of 2000 Alaskans who are interested in finding out more about enrolling in health insurance on the marketplace.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. 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 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie