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Thousands of Alaskans Losing Private Insurance Under Obamacare

Published On: Nov 12 2013 11:19:55 PM AKST   Updated On: Nov 12 2013 11:56:38 PM AKST
Affordable Care Act

As elements of the Affordable Care Act begin to take effect, some Alaskans are finding themselves without insurance.

"I know that Blue Cross Blue Shield has cancelled 50 percent of their individual policies: that's just over 5,000 polices here in Alaska,” said Josh Archambault, research fellow with the Foundation for Government Accountability. “I don't think we have a full extent of it because Aetna hasn't released their numbers as well."

The Foundation for Government Accountability describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.

There are a variety of reasons insurance companies drop Alaska consumers. 

Anthony Picallo said he got a letter from his insurance company in September, telling him he would be dropped by his provider because his individual plan does not comply with the ACA.

Picallo said his premiums were bumped from $197 to $265 dollars shortly before he received the letter.

The cheapest plan that he can find on the Health Insurance Exchange is $365.

Once his current plan expires, Picallo said he plans to use his health savings and stockbroker accounts to pay for medical bills.

“Once that account is depleted, the bills will rack up, whatever I have left, I will declare bankruptcy," said Picallo, a Valdez resident.

"I don't think it's the insurance companies that are just to blame for this,” said Archambault.  “I think the federal government certainly should be included in that ring of blame to go around."

Dr. Robert Lieberson, an Anchorage neurosurgeon who describes himself as an Obama supporter, said he thinks the federal government is doing a poor job defending the health care reform law.

“One of the big problems is some things are regulated too much and some are not regulated enough,” he said.

Lieberson is also seeing a lot of patients being dropped from their individual plans and is worried they will be content with paying the government tax for not having healthcare.

"They're probably going to have to fix the penalty, as long as it's cheaper to pay a penalty and buy insurance, then people are going to a penalty."

The Foundation for Government Accountability is urging state leaders to work with the Division of Insurance and remind the carriers that they're allowed to renew policies for individuals that run from this December through the end of 2014.