Responsible for a large supply of our country’s seafood and oil, Alaska was originally discovered for its natural resources, and America just had to have it. Home to the Aurora Borealis, the largest national forest in the U.S., the highest point in the North America (Mount McKinley), and a certain 2008 Vice Presidential candidate-entertainer, the chilly, massive state has been part of this country since 1959.
Several health insurance companies are available in Alaska, such as Aetna, Celtic, ODS, and Premera Blue Cross. To compare rates and get more detailed information about the plans in your area, enter your zip in the quote engine below.
In Alaska, the air quality is very good, which is one of the health benefits of living in the state. The population of uninsured residents is 121,800, which is 16% of the total, though this does not include participation in public programs. Alaskan residents have the benefit of high per capita funding for public health programs, as well as a minimal diabetic population.
Areas that need some work are obesity, which is present in 25% of the population, as well as excessive drinking, which has seen a 3% increase in the state’s total population (now at 19.1%) over the past year. Smoking is also a point of concern. Though the population of smokers has decreased in the last five years, 107,000 adults in Alaska still smoke cigarettes and put themselves at risk of other health problems.
Alaskans could make improvements in their overall approach to making healthy foods accessible and increasing physical activity. However, because of the prevalence of public health funding and encouragement from private insurance companies, the health of Alaska could move in a positive direction if people choose to utilize these resources. Otherwise, their future according to current health statistics indicates a potential decline in healthiness. Which means if you live in Alaska you should take initiative to protect yourself and your family, and make Alaska a more healthy place to live!
Health Insurance Plans
- PPO Value plans are available with a variety of deductible options for both in and out of network services. There is a great deal of freedom in these types of plans, as you do not have to choose a primary care physician, and therefore do not need a referral to see a specialist. Preventive care is covered at 100% before deductible, and a predictable, small fee is required for office visits. There is also a small copay for prescription drugs, and no charge for children’s immunizations.
- High Deductibleplans are available with the ability to open a health savings account for tax-free funds to use towards medical costs. These plans give access to the Aetna PPO network, as well as providers outside of the network for twice the cost. Most in-network services are covered at 100% after your deductible has been met, such as office visits, X-rays and lab work, emergency care, surgeries, hospitalization, and chiropractic care. The same services are covered at 50% out-of-network.
- Preventive and Hospital Care plans are basic PPO plans that cover preventive care at 100% before deductible, and hospital care at 20% after deductible. These plans provide a minimal level of care for those who want insurance but do not wish to make a large investment, and do not need any pharmacy benefits.
- CeltiCare Preferred plans are available in two types in Alaska: Any Doc and Managed Indemnity. These PPO plans have a variety of deductibles to choose from, and comprehensive coverage for many medical needs. Preventive care is covered at 100% before you have paid your deductible, and insurance will cover a large portion (percentage varies depending on plan) of most other services after you have met your deductible. Both types have a $10 generic prescription copay, the ability to see in and out of network providers, and use of Celtic’s convenient mail order pharmacy.
- HSA plans from Celtic are tax-advantaged high-deductible health plans that qualify to open a health savings account. These plans cover prescription medications, preventive care, and most other medical services at 100% after you have paid your deductible. HSA plans through Celtic in Alaska are indemnity plans, which means they are not connected to any network. This gives you freedom to choose your providers and manage your health care personally.
- Preferred plans from ODS Alaska are PPO plans with a variety of deductibles, and the option of using providers from their PPO network, or seeking out-of-network care. Both are covered by your preferred plan, though in-network will be significantly less costly. Preventive care, such as annual physical exams and GYN exams, and children’s check-ups are covered at 100%. Prescription drug coverage, hospital care, lab work, and emergency care are all available for a small percentage (20%) before you have met your deductible. Chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathic care are also available for coverage after meeting deductible.
- Beneficial Choice plans are PPO plans also, though they offer 70/30 coverage as opposed to the Preferred plans. These plans also cover preventive care services, and many other types of medical care such as hospitalization, surgeries, doctor’s office visits, and prescriptions at 30% before deductible. The first two doctor’s office visits or urgent care for illness or injury are reimbursed at 70% with the deductible waived.
- HSA plans are available in several types in Alaska: HSA Choice, Select and Value. Each of these types of plans provides you with access to the ODS PPO network, or the choice to seek out-of-network care. As the name indicates, these are qualified for use with health savings accounts. Choice and Select plans have in-network deductibles of either 80% or 50% coinsurance coverage, and Value plans have 100% coverage after deductible. Both Choice and Value have prescription coverage of 70% after deductible, and the Select plan has 50%.
Premera (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska)
- Safeguard plans are PPO plans with a high deductible, coverage at 100% for preventive care, and various health care services available for a percentage of coinsurance before meeting deductible. The first two doctor’s office visits are available for a small percentage of coinsurance with your deductible waived. Services covered by these plans include emergency care, surgery, lab work, chiropractic and acupuncture (12 visit limit annually), and inpatient hospital services.
- All Access plans give you a wide range of benefits and comprehensive coverage, with no charge before deductible on preventive care. Though plan members have access to the BCBS Alaska PPO network, there is no requirement to seek in-network care (rates are much lower, however). After your deductible has been met, your plan will cover emergency care, doctor’s office visits, X-rays, home health care, and more. Though prescription coverage is not available, there is a discount program, and these plans also have an unlimited lifetime maximum.
- Peak plans also give you access to the PPO network of providers, with prescription drug coverage, and preventive care at no charge. Other services are covered at 80% before meeting your deductible, such as inpatient hospital treatment, outpatient surgery, and ambulance services. The first four doctor’s office visits are covered at 80% with the deductible waived.
- HSA plans are also available through Premera with a selection of high deductibles, and the choice of opening a tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA). These plans have a great deal of coverage, with all preventive care covered immediately at 100%. Once you have met your deductible, which you can help pay for with funds from your HSA, these plans cover prescriptions, doctor’s office visits, chiropractic care, surgery, hospitalization, and many other services at 100%.
Public Health Options
There are many programs in place in the state of Alaska to help individuals have access to health care. Public medical assistance in Alaska has been seeing an increase in funding per capita, which means health care is available to many more people than just those who have insurance. Even certain qualified individuals with health insurance can enroll in Medicaid or other programs administered by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. For a full list of health programs funded by the state of Alaska, visit the DHSS official site. Below is a highlighted selection of programs available.
- Medicaid: state funded health care for Alaskans who are pregnant, children, disabled, blind, elderly, or have a low income.
- Indian Health Service: American Indian/Alaska Native health care assistance
- Denali KidCare: medical coverage for low-income pregnant women and children up to age 19
- Chronic and Acute Medical Assistance (CAMA): a state-funded program for Alaskans with chronic medical conditions including terminal illnesses, cancer, and hypertension
Health Insurance Laws
Pre-existing condition laws vary from state to state, and in Alaska, they are currently in favor of the insurance companies. While children under 19 with pre-existing conditions are required by the Affordable Care Act to be accepted for health insurance plans through a private company since 2010, adults with such conditions have to wait until January 1, 2014. Insurers in Alaska have the ability to determine what qualifies as a pre-existing condition, as well as to reject individuals with a qualifying condition from a plan altogether.
In some cases, companies will accept these individuals for health insurance, but raise the premium cost and issue an exclusion period. Exclusion periods in Alaska have no limit, and elimination riders are permitted, which means an insurance company can agree to sell you a plan, but never pay for care related to the pre-existing condition. However, a state-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is available in Alaska for those who get denied coverage by insurance companies.
Alaska insurance companies are required to comply with HIPAA laws, which include the guaranteed renewability provision. This provision allows the policy-holder to renew their plan at the end of a term. It also prevents health insurance companies from cancelling plans on the basis of illness acquired during the course of being insured. HIPAA also protects the insured Alaskan’s health-related electronic data used for medical care transactions. This personal information must not be used without consent of the insured, and they will be notified when data is being sent from one place to another according to law.
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health care laws are changing in every state. In 2014, Alaska will have a state health exchange (as will all states) to help regulate cost and availability of health insurance. These exchanges will offer health plans with “essential benefits”, which have to meet federal requirements in ten different categories of coverage, such as maternity care, emergency care, hospitalization, and preventive/wellness services. Though the benefits have the same requirements across the board, the state of Alaska will make its own provisions as to eligibility, cost, and other details regarding how the state issues such plans.