Fewer Alaskans enrolled in Obamacare for 2018


Alaska saw a 4.35 percent drop in the number of residents signing up for private health insurance during the Obamacare open enrollment period that ended in December.

For comparison, in the open enrollment for coverage for 2017, some 19,145 Alaskans signed up for health insurance on the federally run marketplace, which has but one provider to choose from: Premera Blue Cross.

But this past fall, only 18,313 Alaskans signed up for the insurance coverage for the 2018 cycle, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. 

The drop in Alaska enrollment was not as great as in other states using the federally run market. Among the 34 using the federal exchange, the enrollee drop was 5.28 percent from the previous year.

The enrollment period during the fall of 2017 was only six weeks long, rather than the two months from the previous year, which may account for some of the drop. Another reason may be that President Donald Trump signed an order to roll back the requirement that Americans must have insurance coverage or pay a tax to the IRS.

But enrollment doesn’t mean that people have coverage. They have to pay their premiums to get that. Actual, or “effectuated enrollment” as it’s called, is substantially less.

2016 – 15,252 Alaskans who enrolled ended up paying their first month premium. By the end of the year, only 13,243 still were paying for coverage.

2017 – 14,954 Alaskans who enrolled ended up paying for coverage. The year-end figure is not yet available.

Alaska has the smallest number of enrollees in the Obamacare private health insurance program, also known as the Affordable Care Act. The typical cost for a 27-year-old buying the health insurance offered is more than $1,000 per month, but many receive tax credits that bring the cost down. The average tax credit in Alaska for the insurance is $965.53 per month.