How the Health Care Law is Making a Difference for the People of Alaska

The Affordable Care Act is providing better options, better value, better health, and a stronger Medicare program to the people of Alaska by:

Better Options

The Health Insurance Marketplace

Through the Health Insurance Marketplace Alaskans can compare qualified health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for lower costs for private insurance or health programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in health coverage. 

At the end of the first annual open enrollment period, enrollment in the Marketplace surged to eight million people nationwide. In Alaska alone, 12,890 individuals selected a Marketplace plan between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 (including additional special enrollment period activity through April 19, 2014).

Of the 12,890 Alaskans who selected a plan:

  • 52% are female and 48% are male;
  • 38% are under age 35;
  • 29% are between the ages of 18 and 34;
  • 65% selected a Silver plan, while 27% selected a Bronze plan; and,
  • 88% selected a plan with financial assistance.

Although open enrollment for 2014 coverage is over, the next open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014 for coverage that can begin as early as January 1, 2015.  Click here to learn more about your coverage options outside of open enrollment. 

Medicaid

Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is open year round.  To find out if you are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP visit HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov if you prefer Spanish. Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid so far, with the federal government providing 100 percent of the funds for the newly eligible population for the next three years, and never less than 90 percent after that. Alaska has not taken advantage of the new opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Mental Health

The Affordable Care Act increases access to comprehensive coverage by requiring most health plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, to include hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, and mental health and substance use disorder services.  The health care law expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for 62 million Americans nationwide, including 155,859 Alaskans.

New coverage options for young adults

Under the health care law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Thanks to this provision, over 3 million young people who would otherwise have been uninsured have gained coverage nationwide, including 9,000 young adults in Alaska.

Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions  

As many as 43,371 non-elderly Alaskans have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 43,371 children.  Today, most insurers can no longer deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, under the health care law.  And they can no longer charge women more because of their gender.

Better Value

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule

Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or they have to provide you a refund.  This means that 12,344 Alaskans with private insurance coverage benefited from $1,645,701 in refunds from insurance companies in 2012, for an average refund of $190 per family covered by a policy.

Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases 

In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Since implementing the law, the fraction of requests for insurance premium increases of 10 percent or more has dropped dramatically, from 75 percent to 14 percent nationally.  To date, the rate review program has helped save Americans an estimated $1 billion.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits 

The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 237,000 people in Alaska, including 86,000 women and 64,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely starting in 2014.

Better Health

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay

The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.

In 2011 and 2012, 71 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 164,000 in Alaska. And women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need.  Approximately 47 million women, including 107,031 in Alaska will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing.

Increasing support for community health centers

The health care law increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. In Alaska, 28 health centers operate 184 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 98,568 people.  Health Center grantees in Alaska have received $89,511,576 under the health care law to support ongoing health center operations and to establish new health center sites, expand services, and/or support major capital improvement projects. 

Community Health Centers in all 50 states also received a total of $150 million in federal grants to help enroll uninsured Americans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, including $2,652,770 awarded to Alaska health centers.  Alaska health centers anticipated using these funds to hire 114 additional workers who would assist 20,141 Alaskans with enrollment into affordable health insurance coverage. 

Investing in the primary care workforce

As a result of historic investments through the health care law and the Recovery Act, the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are near all-time highs with 8,900 Corps clinicians providing care to more than 9.3 million people who live in rural, urban, and frontier communities.  The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, and other primary care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve the people who live there.  As of September 30, 2013, there were 97 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Alaska, compared to 23 in 2008.

Preventing illness and promoting health

Through Fiscal Year 2013, Alaska has received $15,573,232 in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health care law. This fund was created to support effective policies in Alaska and nationwide, such as initiatives focused on tobacco cessation, obesity prevention, health coverage enrollment assistance, and increasing the primary care and public health workforce, so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives. 

A Stronger Medicare Program

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors 

In Alaska, people with Medicare have saved nearly $6,581,975 on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act.  In 2013 alone, 2,564 individuals in Alaska saved over $2,363,927, or an average of $922 per beneficiary.  In 2013, people with Medicare in the “donut hole” received a 52.5 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and a 21 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.  Nationally, over 7.9 million people with Medicare have saved over $9.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay

With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2013 alone, an estimated 37.2 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing.  In Alaska, 44,197 individuals with Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2013.

Protecting Medicare’s solvency

The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Over the last five years, the administration’s fraud enforcement efforts have recovered $19.2 billion from fraudsters. For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has returned $8.10.


 

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Content last reviewed on June 3, 2014