Julie Anderson, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, speaks to the Alaska Chamber of Commerce at Centennial Hall on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. With Anderson on stage Curtis Thayer, president and CEO of the Alaska Chamber. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Julie Anderson, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, speaks to the Alaska Chamber of Commerce at Centennial Hall on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. With Anderson on stage Curtis Thayer, president and CEO of the Alaska Chamber. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Alaska Voices: More important than ever to have insurance coverage

Individual insurance market open enrollment closes Dec. 15

  • Monday, December 7, 2020 9:34pm
  • Opinion

Open enrollment for Alaska’s 2021 individual market insurance plans is underway and there are just a couple weeks left before it ends on Dec. 15. If you don’t have health insurance or if you want to make a plan change for your current individual market coverage, open enrollment provides a limited opportunity to take action. During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family.

Health insurance covers expenses that are important for staying healthy and treating illness and injuries. It also helps protect you against expensive medical costs. There are several health insurance plans available to you at a variety of different prices. You will want to see if you are eligible for assistance and shop around to see which plan is best for you. Be sure to compare coverage along with costs.

Alaska’s individual health insurance market started to stabilize in 2017 and Alaskans will see an average 6.4% decrease in premiums for individual plans in 2021. There are now two insurers offering plans in most parts of Alaska, so there are more plan options to choose from.

Many Alaskans may qualify for federal tax credits to help cover premium costs and others may qualify for federal subsidies to help pay cost-sharing amounts like deductibles. In the past few years, more than 80% of Affordable Cares Act (ACA) market enrollees have received premium reductions.

To determine what plans are available and whether you qualify for tax credits or other assistance, go to www.healthcare.gov. Consumers may also purchase plans directly from Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska or Moda Assurance. Insurance companies may also help consumers set up health savings accounts to cover certain health care costs while providing tax advantages.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a devastating number of people have lost their jobs and their health insurance plans. Act now to get yourself and your family covered. The window to get insured is open now but will close on Dec. 15.

Julie Anderson is the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.

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