Health-care officials are urging Southeast Alaskans to continue signing up for Obamacare, despite its uncertain future.
Jessie Menkins is navigator program manager for the Alaska Primary Care Association. She said Premera, the company offering Affordable Care Act coverage in Alaska, is under contract through the end of the year.
“What we know is that in this state, we have extremely high costs associated with delivering care and with insurance rates. Given those constraints, this is indeed an avenue to be able to save on costs and to explore all opportunities available to better afford coverage,” she said.
Those opportunities include Medicaid, which provides coverage for low-income people. Alaska’s recent program expansion means a significant number of people don’t know they’re eligible.
Menkins is in Petersburg Thursday and Friday morning, meeting with those interested in learning more about coverage and how to sign up.
Meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the public library from and 9 to 11 a.m. Friday at the Petersburg Indian Association office. She’s also stopped in Ketchikan and Juneau.
Also visiting is Andrea Thomas, Southeast Regional Health Consortium outreach and enrollment manager.
Thomas admits signing up can be complicated.
“Sometimes there are problems, so we help explain what the plans are and how to get their care and that prevention is 100 percent covered and what does that mean. So, there are people that are here to assist people,” she said.
Congressional leaders and the Trump administration have promised to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. But that will likely take a while. And the new president has promised to continue insuring those covered under Obamacare.
Menkins said more than 18,000 Alaskans are already part of the program. A quarter of those signed up during the current enrollment period, which runs out at the end of this month.
Thomas said it’s provided opportunities to Alaskans who didn’t think they’d ever qualify for insurance.
“It’s the first time for a lot of people, especially for self-employed (people) like fishermen and carpenters. Where they’re not offered insurance, this has been really a blessing for them,” she said.
More information is available by calling 1-844-PLANS AK (1-844-752-6725) or at www.getcoveredalaska.org.