NEWS: Concerns Raised About Monopoly of Individual Health Insurance in Alaska

Rep. Adam Wool

Rep. Wool Calls for Increased Scrutiny of Insurance Rate Increases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2016

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Division of Insurance cancelled Moda Health’s ability to sell health insurance in Alaska.  That leaves Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield as the only company selling individual health insurance plans in Alaska.  Representative Adam Wool (D- Fairbanks) responded to the news by highlighting the need to reform Alaska’s health insurance rate review process.  Rep. Wool is the sponsor of House Bill 239 which would create a series of reforms to strengthen the Division of Insurance’s review process and make sure consumers are informed of proposed rate increases. 

“Now that one insurance company will have a monopoly on individual health insurance in Alaska, it is more important than ever that health insurance rates be properly scrutinized and consumers be properly informed about possible rate increases,” said Rep. Wool.  “Alaskan have already been forced to bear rate hikes far in excess of those in the rest of the country, and now that we have a true monopoly it is imperative that we reform our rate review process immediately.”

According to the Commonwealth Fund, from 2014-2015 Alaska’s health insurance rates rose by 31%, the highest increase in the nation, even though nationwide rates stayed flat.  For 2016 the Division of Insurance has approved another average rate increase of 39%.  HB 239 requires that the Division of Insurance hold investigatory hearings for all rate increase of more than 10%.  The Attorney General would be authorized to advocate for the consumers in these hearings, similar to the role the Attorney General plays in utility rate cases before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.  Current law allows the division to conduct hearings on any rate case, but they have chosen to simply approve the recent rate hikes without holding hearings.

“Studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that across the country rigorous health insurance rate review processes have saved Americans $1 billion each year,” said Rep. Wool.  “It’s about time Alaskans start getting some of these savings.”

HB 239 is currently in the House Health and Social Services Committee.

For additional information, please contact David Dunsmore in Rep. Wool’s office at (907) 465-4976.

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