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As an Alaskan, you have many choices when it comes to affordable health insurance coverage. You can enroll in an employer insurance plan, sign up for DenaliCare, enroll in Medicare, search for a plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace, or buy a plan from an insurance company.
This guide explains your Alaska health insurance options in detail.
Alaska uses the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Enrolling is easy, and you can begin by going to HealthCare.gov and creating an account. You’ll need to provide accurate contact information when you set up your account.
After you fill out your application, the website automatically determines if you qualify for the Advanced Premium Tax Credit, which can reduce your monthly premiums. You’re also informed if you qualify for Medicaid and other financial assistance programs. Make sure that before you apply you have the full name, birth date, and Social Security number for everyone you want to include on your plan.
Other information you need to provide includes:
The next step is to review the plans that are available on the Health Insurance Marketplace. HealthCare.gov shows the monthly premium, deductible, and coinsurance requirements for each policy. The comparison tool lets you see up to three plans side-by-side to help you choose the individual or family plan that best suits your needs. When you’ve made your decision, you can complete your enrollment on the website.
The following companies offer insurance plans in Alaska through the Health Insurance Marketplace:
Enrolling in a family health insurance policy isn’t significantly different from enrolling in individual coverage. The main difference is that you need to consider the medical needs of each family member and find a plan that works for everybody in your family. These are the primary things to consider before you shop for coverage:
Shopping for an individual plan gives you more flexibility because you don’t need to consider anyone else’s needs. Selecting a policy with a higher deductible and coinsurance can save you money on monthly premiums. The type of plan you choose also impacts the cost.
There are different types of plans you can choose from:
When shopping for family coverage, you need to consider the best way to reduce the cost of health care for your entire household. If someone in your household is more likely to use your coverage regularly, you may save more money in the long run by choosing a policy with higher monthly premiums but a lower deductible.
Also, consider what type of plan is best for your family. You may save money with an HMO, but you should review the network to see if you have access to the health care services your family needs. If you want more choice over your doctors and specialists, consider enrolling in a PPO or POS.
There are four tiers of policies available on the Health Insurance Marketplace: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each tier categorizes policies based on factors such as annual deductibles, coinsurance requirements, and monthly premiums.
|Average premiums in Alaska||2019||2020||2021||2022|
|Most affordable Bronze Plan||$472||$448||$435||$429|
|Most affordable Silver Plan||$701||$698||$673||$672|
|Most affordable Gold Plan||$672||$636||$608||$610|
There are two programs available to assist low-income Alaskans with their health care coverage. The first is Alaska’s Medicaid program, DenaliCare, which is funded by the state and federal governments. The second is the Denali KidCare program, which provides coverage for children. Your eligibility for either program depends on your income, household size, and whether anyone in your family has a disability.
DenaliCare is administered by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and is the state’s Medicaid program. To qualify for DenaliCare, you need to have low income and meet at least one of the following criteria:
You may qualify for DenaliCare if your income is under a sliding threshold that increases with household size. The individual threshold is $17,131 per year, for example, but it increases to $29,207 for a family of three. If you’re pregnant, your unborn child counts as a household member.
You can apply for DenaliCare through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or by calling the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Assistance at 907-465-1617.
If you don’t qualify for DenaliCare and can’t afford insurance coverage for your children, you can still apply for Denali KidCare. This program helps children under the age of 19 and pregnant women. To enroll a child, you must meet the following criteria:
Denali KidCare covers minor children and pregnant women who don’t qualify for Medicaid. You’re required to pay a small monthly premium and receive coverage for prenatal care, routine examinations, immunizations, prescription drugs, approved outpatient procedures, dental, vision, and mental health care.
You can apply for Denali KidCare through the Health Insurance Marketplace or the Division of Public Assistance.
Alaskans have several options to choose from when it comes to Medicare. You can enroll in Original Medicare, or opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan.
If you choose Original Medicare, you can also purchase supplemental plans to extend your coverage. Medicare Part D covers prescription medications, while Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) covers deductibles, copays, and other out-of-pocket Medicare costs.
To qualify for Medicare, you must be at least 65 years old or have a qualifying disability. In most cases, a qualifying disability is a condition that makes you eligible for at least 24 months of payments from the Social Security Disability Insurance program or Railroad Retirement Board. You may be able to qualify sooner if you have end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
If you start receiving your Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits at least four months before you turn 65, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare. Otherwise, you must fill out an application online or contact your local Social Security office. You can enroll in Medicare during the following periods:
If you need assistance with your Medicare enrollment, you can call Access Alaska at 1-800-770-4488 to speak with a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselor at no cost.
If you know that you’re going to lose your health insurance because you’re changing jobs, moving, or have missed your enrollment deadline through the Health Insurance Marketplace, short-term health insurance may help you bridge a gap in coverage. Alaska doesn’t have any restrictions on temporary coverage, so federal laws apply instead. These mandate that a short-term policy can only last a year and you’re only able to renew it twice, for a total of 36 months of coverage.
Short-term health insurance policies, while offering cheap health insurance, aren’t bound by the rules written into the ACA, so you can be denied coverage for preexisting conditions, and your premiums may be increased due to your health history.
Alaskans aren’t required to have health insurance. There’s no state mandate for coverage, and the ACA mandate isn’t enforceable after Congress repealed the penalty in 2019. If you don’t have insurance, you’re not going to pay any fines on your taxes, but you will be responsible for all your medical expenses.
If you’re not interested in the Advanced Premium Tax Credit, you don’t need to use Alaska’s Health Insurance Marketplace to obtain coverage. Keep in mind that the only way to qualify for the tax credit is to enroll in a policy through the exchange.
The most popular form of cost-sharing plans are faith-based plans. In a faith-based plan, members share health care costs with other members. You don’t need to be a member of a particular denomination (or even religious), to participate in a plan. While these plans can be relatively low-cost, most faith-based plans don’t conform to ACA standards and don’t cover pre-existing conditions, mental health care, or pregnancy.
Health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts are meant as supplements to your existing health insurance coverage. These accounts are designed to help you put money aside for unexpected medical expenses.
Short-term disability insurance covers out-of-pocket expenses that traditional health insurance doesn’t. For example, your health insurance pays for doctor’s appointments and medical procedures but doesn’t replace your wages while you can’t work. This is useful insurance, but it doesn’t replace your health care plan.
Long-term disability coverage works like short-term disability insurance so that you can continue to pay for your groceries, utilities, and mortgage if you’re unable to work due to a disability or chronic health condition.