State officials propose program to address rising health insurance rates

State officials in Alaska are proposing a program to address high-cost health insurance claims in hopes of stabilizing rising rates on the individual policy market.

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Just two companies serve the individual market in Alaska and have filed for double-digit rate increases each of the last two years. State officials say that’s not sustainable. They hope that reviving a high-risk pool to handle claims for the costliest conditions will bring some relief. The idea is to spread the cost of those claims across all insured markets rather than being borne by the smaller individual market.

Division of Insurance Director Lori Wing-Heier told lawmakers that without a change, the state runs the risk of the individual market going into a “death spiral,” with people forced from the market by the high rates.

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