FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Alaska’s lone individual insurance carrier has reached an agreement with the state Division of Insurance to make a one-time $25 million reimbursement.
Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska announced on Friday that its reimbursement will go toward funding high-cost health insurance claims through the Alaska Reinsurance Program, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .
The state-operated reinsurance program aims to stabilize customers’ premiums by covering claims in the individual health care market for those with one or more of the 33 previously identified higher-cost conditions.
“We believe offering to make a one-time reimbursement to the Alaska Reinsurance Program was the right thing to do, given that our claims this year were much lower than we or the state anticipated,” said Jim Grazko, president and general manager of Premera’s Alaska office. “This reimbursement underscores our continued commitment to Alaska’s individual insurance market, especially to those individuals who are most in need of care, and reinforces our efforts to work with the state to provide all Alaskans with access to high-quality care at an affordable price.”
Premera said it offered to make the reimbursement after finding that health insurance claims filed by Alaska customers during 2017 were nearing the lowest in a decade.
The agreement calls for Premera’s funds to be used “solely for health insurance claims in the individual market.”
“We continually look at financials to see how the market is performing, so there’s this constant dynamic,” said Lori Wing-Heier, director of Alaska’s Division of Insurance. “For the last several years they were losing money. We then raised rates to compensate for that, but this year they came to us and said the claims have diminished.”
Wing-Heier said she’s not sure if this trend will continue but she’s hopeful.
“Things are definitely going in the right direction,” she said. “Alaska used to have the highest health care costs in the country and recently we’ve dropped from number one to number four so that’s definitely a good thing.”
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com