Alaska

SUMMARY

In the most recent legislative term, Alaska passed a law which sets up a $55 million fund, which is financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies, in order to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes.  The number of insurers offering plans to individuals on Alaska markets is set to drop to one for 2017, and state officials warned that the remaining company couldn’t realistically raise rates high enough to cover customers’ medical bills. Alaska Governor Bill Walker said the bill will ensure that the 23,000 Alaskans enrolled in exchange plans won’t suddenly lose their insurance.

Alaska was inactive in regard to healthcare price transparency and competition legislation.

 

LEGISLATION/REGULATION

Legislative Calendar

Alaska’s regular legislative session has ended for 2017.

 

Recent Legislative Developments

Healthcare Markets

2017 SB 62 An Act repealing the certificate of need program for health care facilities; making 02 conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date. Inactive — died.

 

Healthcare Transparency

  • None identified.

 

Healthcare Costs

2015-2016 HB 374 An Act relating to coverage under a state plan provided by the Comprehensive Health Insurance Association; establishing the Alaska comprehensive health insurance fund; relating to a reinsurance program; relating to the definition of ‘residents who are high risks’; relating to an application for a waiver for state innovation for health care insurance; and providing for an effective date.

This bill sets up a $55 million fund, which is financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies, in order to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes.

Passed — Signed by Governor on November 7, 2016.


Key Statutes

We compile state statutes that relate to healthcare price and competition, including healthcare transparency, markets, and costs. For a complete listing of all health related statutes visit the State Health Practice Database for Research.

Transparency in Healthcare

  • Alaska Stat. § 21.06.085 requires health care insurers to use uniform claim forms established by the director of insurance for the purpose of processing data relating to billing for and payment of health care services provided to residents of the state.

 

Healthcare Contracts

  • Alaska Stat. § 21.07.010 regulates contracts between health care providers and insurers, stating that a contract may not contain a provision that the provider be compensated for medical care services performed at the same rate as the provider has contracted with another health care insurer.

 

Healthcare Markets

  • Alaska Stat. § 21.51.405 states that “[r]ates charged for a health insurance policy may not be excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory.” Insurers must file rate changes with the director of insurance, who has an opportunity to demand information and disapprove of the change during the statutorily provided waiting period before the change becomes effective.

 

  • Alaska Stat. § 21.07.020 states that a health care insurance policy must contain a provision that covered medical services shall be reasonably available in the community in which a covered persons resides or that adequate referrals outside the community will be made available if necessary.

 

  • Alaska Stat. § 21.07.030 requires that if a health care insurer offers a policy that provides for coverage of medical services furnished through a network of providers that have entered into a contract with the insurer, the insurer must also offer a non-network option to covered persons at initial enrollment (which may require additional cost-sharing).

 

  • Alaska Stat. 21.36.020 prohibits unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance.

 

  • Alaska Stat. § 18.07.031 prohibits health care providers from acquiring, replacing, or adding to their facilities and equipment, except in specified circumstances, without the prior approval of the Department of Health and Human Services through the state’s Certificate of Need process. A Certificate of Need regime aims to reduce healthcare overheard by reducing unnecessary or duplicative services, but can be anticompetitive by increasing regulatory barriers for new entrants.

 

  • Alaska Stat. § 18.09.010 creates the Alaska Health Care Commission to serve as the state health planning and coordinating body, with duties to reduce health care costs by enhancing market forces and increase saving from health information technology, among other things.

 

 

LITIGATION/ENFORCEMENT

  • In April 2017, Department of Justice and the FTC issued a joint statement regarding proposed legislation repealing the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws. The agencies recommended that Alaska repeal its CON laws, which require healthcare providers to obtain state approval before expanding, establishing new facilities or services, or making certain large capital expenditures.

 

KEY RESOURCES

Alaska State Legislature

Alaska Office of the Attorney General