This guide provides an overview of the Alaska Health Insurance Exchange including the history of the exchange, how the exchange will operate, and exchange information for Alaska residents and small businesses.
Alaska Health Insurance Exchange Introduction
Beginning in 2014, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance coverage for individuals and small businesses will become available through new state health insurance exchanges (also called health insurance marketplaces).
Most importantly, the key tax credits (e.g. the small business healthcare tax credits) and tax subsidies (e.g. individual health insurance tax subsidies) will only be available for coverage purchased through a state health insurance exchanges.
All states have three options for setting up a state health insurance exchange for 2014:
- Build a state-based exchange
- Enter into a state-federal partnership exchange
- Default to a federally-facilitated exchange
Alaska will default to a federally-facilitated health insurance exchange.
Alaska Health Insurance Exchange - History
On July 17, 2012, Governor Sean Parnell announced that Alaska would allow the federal government to operate the Alaska Health Insurance Exchange. The Governor's announcement came after the State of Alaska completed a study on health insurance exchange planning. In the announcement, the Governor stated the cost and uncertainty of federal guidance the reasons for not implementing a state-based health insurance exchange. Click here to read the Governor's press release.
Alaska Health Insurance Exchange - What is It?
The Alaska Health Insurance Exchange will be operated through a federally-run health insurance exchange, called the Health Insurance Marketplace. Starting in October 2013 Alaska residents will be able to access information about all the plans available through the Exchange. The SHOP Exchange will also be available to small businesses with 100 or fewer employers. Coverage from the Exchange starts in January 2014.
According to an estimate by healthcare.gov, 39,421 or 21% of Alaska’s non-elderly residents are uninsured, of whom 126,344 (91%) may qualify for either tax credits to purchase coverage in the Marketplace or for Medicaid if Alaska participates in the Medicaid expansion.
Alaska Health Insurance Exchange - What Plans will be Available?
All plans offered through the Alaska Health Insurance Exchange will meet the ACA definition of a Qualified Health Plan (QHP). The plans will be offered by level of coverage for essential health benefits (EHB), to allow consumers to compare plans on an "apples to apples" basis. The four "metal" levels are: Bronze (plan pays 60%), Silver (plan pays 70%), Gold (plan pays 80%) and Platinum (plan pays 90%). More information on the types of plans that will be available, and the carriers offering plans in Alaska, is expected by late summer 2013.
Alaska Health Insurance Exchange - Role of Insurance Professionals & Navigators
The Alaska Health Insurance Exchange will follow federal guidelines for insurance professionals selling policies through the Exchange and for navigators assisting consumers and small businesses.
Insurance professionals will be able to register with the Alaska Health Insurance Exchange and receive any commissions directly from the carriers (using their Exchange ID number and NPN).
The Alaska Health Insurance Exchange navigator program will assist consumers in making choices about their health care options and accessing their new health care coverage, including access to premium tax credits for some consumers. The federal government will run the navigator program in Alaska.