Alaska sees 26 percent drop in health insurance rates

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Alaskans buying health insurance on the individual market will see a decrease of 26.5 percent in rates next year, the sole insurer in the state announced Tuesday.

Alaskans had been paying some of the highest premiums in the nation.

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield attributed the decrease to a significant reduction in the use of medical services and the state’s establishment of a program to address high claims separately, called reinsurance.

Premera’s announcement “shows that my team’s out-of-the box thinking in creating the Alaska Reinsurance Program – approved by the Legislature – has paid off,” Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said in an email statement.

“It also supports a need for Congress to fully examine the impacts of any changes to the Affordable Care Act, which enabled the creation of this program,” said Walker, an independent who favors a bipartisan approach to healthcare overhaul.

The decrease could mean nearly 0 a month