Tag Archives: health care alaska

Northrim Bank finds business in ObamaCare

Obamacare At least one Alaskan private enterprise believes that there’s money to be made in the new health care law. Northrim Benefits Group, an affiliate of Northrim Bank, has started a service called Enroll Alaska that will help guide individuals through the new insurance marketplaces. Those marketplaces, or exchanges, are a key part of the Affordable Care Act, and will be up and running on October 1.

Depending on whom you ask and how it’s defined, anywhere from 66,000 to 139,000 Alaskans are uninsured or underinsured. Enroll Alaska hopes to be the broker of choice to as many of these as possible.

In the process, the business will also be educating Alaskans on the exchange, a role that our state government has appeared to have opted out of.

Agencies and nonprofits are also doing their part. In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services handed out more than $1,800,000 in grants to 25 Alaska health centers operating 168 sites to enroll the uninsured. And on August 15, HSS awarded another grant of $600,000 to be split between United Way and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for outreach.

In truth, however, you don’t need any of these services. You can sign up yourself here, and it doesn’t appear to be overly complicated.

Here’s Northrim’s announcement in full:

ANCHORAGE, AK- August 19, 2013- Northrim Benefits Group (NBG) is proud to announce the formation of Enroll Alaska. This new division of NBG is focused on individual health coverage for the nearly 66,000 uninsured or underinsured Alaskans. Enroll Alaska will help guide individuals through the new insurance marketplaces that have been created with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and help those who may qualify for immediate tax subsidies.

Starting in 2014, there is a federal mandate that all individuals have health insurance, whether through an employer policy or purchased through a Federally Facilitated Marketplace. Individuals with household incomes between 100-400% of Federal Poverty Level may be eligible for premium assistance via a federal tax subsidy. Enroll Alaska will help individuals determine if they qualify for a federal tax subsidy and select a health insurance plan that is right for them and their family.

Enroll Alaska will have locations throughout the state to help individuals and families during open enrollment, which runs from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Enroll Alaska will be the go-to resource for questions regarding the ACA. Information can be found at www.enrollingalaska.com or by calling, 1-855-385-5550.

Correction: Northrim Benefits group is an affiliate of Northrim Bank, not a fully owned subsidiary.
Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Obamacare: the politics of delay and denial

Obamacare On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Don Young voted on a bill to give President Obama the authority to delay, by a year, the employer health care mandate portion of Obamacare. The mandate was to go into effect in 2014, and would have required businesses that employ more than 50 full-time workers to provide affordable insurance, or else be subject to a fine.

This doesn’t mean that Young approves of Obamacare. Young, who has for more than four decades been the beneficiary of some of the best tax funded health care available, has been one of the bill’s staunchest critics. In a release on Tuesday, he called it “one of the worst bills Congress has ever passed,” and promised to continue to advocate for full repeal.

Many critics of Obamacare crowed after the administration announced the delay in the mandate. Others, however, saw a greater game at work, one that could ultimate strengthen the program.

Now that employer mandates are off the table, at least temporarily, the thought is that people are increasingly going to be signing up for individual coverage. Such coverage was always available to the individual, but often times it was too costly, overly burdensome to get, and many were denied due to pre-existing conditions. However, insurance exchanges, one of the key provisions of Obamacare, are still set to be up and running by the end of this year, and individual coverage could be cheaper and easier to get under those exchanges.

Recently, California announced that such exchanges could cut rates for individual insurance by up 29 percent for some consumers. And on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that New Yorkers who buy individual policies will most likely see their premiums cut by half in 2014.

Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to buy that plan for as little as $308 monthly. The costs could be lower with federal subsidies.

That consumers might find individual health care insurance affordable makes Obamacare foes nervous. The public, once it tries it, actually might like it. They might actually be able to afford the kind of insurance that state and federal officials get. Such a notion is anathema to many, including Young and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, as well as other Republican governors. Parnell, among others, has refused to help set up those exchanges. The feds are doing it for Alaska, no matter that if the state cooperated, the exchanges would be better for residents.

Apparently, Parnell and others would leave uninsured Alaskans uninsured in the hopes that they can force Obamacare to fail.

Some Republican governors however, seem to have the health of their residents more in mind than partisanship. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for example, said that he’s not fighting Obamacare because it was in the best interest of New Jersey for its residents to have access to affordable healthcare.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com