FMH

The emergency entrance to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Thursday afternoon, June 29, 2017.

The open enrollment period for federal health care plans begins Friday and will last until Dec. 15. During this period, anyone interested can look over healthcare plans and enroll for the year. 

Alaska Division of Insurance Director Lori Wing-Heier noted in a phone call with the Daily News-Miner on Tuesday that consumers will be happy to see additional options this year. 

In the past, Alaskans have seen limited options in health plans with the state only offering a single provider; Primera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska. Now, Moda Health, an individual and group health insurance company originally based in Oregon, will be offering plans to residents of the more population-dense regions of Alaska, such as the Anchorage, Kenai and Mat-Su areas. 

“We’re pretty pleased that we have two insurers back in the majority of the state this year,” Wing-Heier said.

She added there is the likelihood that Moda will try to expand into more of the state in the coming years.

Wing-Heier noted that as per regulations, she can’t speak to the rate changes until the new year; but she noted she thinks consumers “will be pleased.”

“We’re hoping for a strong enrollment,” Wing-Heier said. “Competition in the market is something that we’ve gotten a lot of requests for in the past, and while the whole state doesn’t have it yet, we’re hoping consumers will give it an honest chance and take a look over the options and see what they qualify for and how they can get that set up.”

Last year was the second year of decreased healthcare premiums in the state with an average decrease in premium costs of 6.5% in 2018.

Information about purchasing a health care plan for 2018 from the government-run marketplace is available online at HealthCare.gov.

This is the only time this year that people can sign up for individual health-care plans barring  life-changing events such as marriages, the loss of  jobs or deaths in the family.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.

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