NEWS: Health Insurance Prices Will Go Up if Medicaid Expansion is Repealed

Repeal Would Cause Premium Price Hikes and Larger Budget Deficits

Juneau – Today, Representatives Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel) and Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) released a report outlining the potential impacts of repealing Medicaid expansion in Alaska. Medicaid expansion was implemented in 2015 to provide medical insurance coverage to a portion of Alaskans who live just above the poverty line. The report, prepared by the non-partisan Legislative Research Services, finds that if Medicaid expansion is repealed there is strong evidence to suggest that a significant portion of medical costs for the expansion population will be borne by hospitals and private payers due to uncompensated medical costs.

“Alaskans who get sick without health insurance face tough choices. Many may delay receiving care because they cannot afford it; causing health conditions to worsen over time. Delaying care may result in an individual finding themselves in an emergency room, with no way to pay. The report we released today shows that uncompensated care results in higher premiums for both private and public health insurance plans. Medicaid expansion provides Alaskans just above the poverty line with basic and accessible healthcare, without shifting costs to consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums,” said Rep. Zulkosky.

The research report released today shows that a repeal of Medicaid Expansion in Alaska could increase health insurance premiums by up to 17 percent and shift up to $181 million in costs to state and local governments. Additionally, hospitals could see a sharp increase in uncompensated care.

“Alaskans can’t afford to pay the higher insurance premiums that will result if the Governor attempts to defund Medicaid Expansion, which is an essential part of containing costs and balancing the state budget,” said Rep. Fields. “Since state and local governments pay health insurance premiums for many of their employees, higher costs would exacerbate funding shortfalls. The immediate and long-term savings from Medicaid expansion more than offset the modest state match that is used as leverage for hundreds of millions of federal dollars.”

In Fiscal Year 2018 the federal government covered 93 percent of the costs to provide health care coverage to the Medicaid expansion population in Alaska. Currently, there are 47,838 Medicaid expansion participants in Alaska.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.