Over 11,000 Alaskans Receiving Health Insurance Refunds

More than 11,000 Alaskans are getting refunds from their health insurance companies.

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As part of the Affordable Care Act, companies have to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care and wellness. If they don’t hit that target, they are required to send refunds to customers. The average refund amount in Alaska is $388 per family.

Premera Alaska has already sent checks to more than 6,000 current and former members. Spokesperson Melanie Coon says customers in Alaska didn’t use as much health care as the company expected last year:

“Our experience in Alaska has been that health care costs trends, especially in the individual market, can vary significantly from year to year,” she said. “So we like to be right on, but it’s always positive when you can say, ‘you know what, people didn’t spend as much so that’s your money and we’re giving it back.’”

Coon says the company also works to keep administrative costs down.

Kristine Kennedy is an Anchorage resident who used to buy an individual health plan from Premera. Earlier this month, she was sifting through her mail when she found a letter from the company. She says thought it was a survey asking her why she canceled her plan.

“I just assumed this was another follow up letter and I opened the envelope and low and behold it’s a refund check,” Kennedy said. “So for the first time in years, after watching our rates go up at least 15 percent per year, it was, ‘holy smokes, wow! Thank you, Affordable Health Care Act.'”

Kennedy’s refund was for $169.

The two other companies issuing refunds in Alaska are the MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company and Time Insurance Company.

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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