October 3, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 40

Health insurance rates to double for some Petersburg residents

Petersburg residents who don’t qualify for the federal facilitated health insurance exchange and purchased insurance after March 2010, who were “grandfathered in”, are seeing their rates more than double.

To qualify for federal subsidies, a person needs to make less than $50,000 a year. According to the Alaska Department of Labor Research and Analysis Division Data, the average private sector annual wage in Petersburg is $31,365.

Susan Erickson, owner of Petersburg-Wrangell Insurance Center, said rates are rising for everyone she’s been working with who doesn’t qualify for subsidies and who don’t have grandfathered plans as outlined by the Affordable Care Act.

“I just did a 25 year-old male non-smoker who had a $10,000 deductible and he was paying $102 a month,” Erickson said. “Now he is going to have to pay $281 with a $6,300 deductible.”

A 35 year-old male non-smoker paying $159 a month will now have to pay $340 a month.

A 63 year-old male non-smoker paying $525 a month, as of January 1 will be paying $827.

“It wasn’t affordable before,” Erickson said. “Now it’s really not going to be affordable.”

Federally facilitated exchanges, or marketplaces, opened October 1 that allow those qualifying for subsidies to purchase insurance. Alaska opted out of creating a state run exchange.

The exchange allows people who are uninsured to shop around for the best rates. Two companies, Primera Blue Cross Blue Shield and Moda Health, offer plans in the marketplace for Alaskans.

Erickson said she doesn’t know yet what’s happening to rates for those who were already paying for health insurance before May 2010.

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