Some Alaska employers -- most prominently GCI -- are encouraging employees who need certain medical treatments to get them in the Lower 48, where prices can be significantly lower, reports the Alaska Public Radio Network. Businesses and insurance companies are offering travel options that cover or soon will cover air fare, hotels and car rentals.
GCI isn't the only company encouraging employees to leave Alaska for some surgeries. Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield will start offering a similar travel option for some plans starting early next year. And the State of Alaska is working to expand the travel benefit it already has in place to make it more appealing to employees. The plan used to only cover airfare for Lower 48 surgeries and procedures. Now, hotel and car rental will be offered too if the total cost is lower than it would be in Alaska.
Becky Hultberg is the state's commissioner of administration. She stresses it will be optional for employees but says cost containment is driving the change: "Our health care costs for the state of Alaska are more than doubling every decade and that's an unsustainable trend for any organization."
Read more at APRN: Big savings prompt Alaskans to seek health care elsewhere