Recently published insurance rates across states made clear what many of us using Alaska’s health care system already know, it is the most expensive in the nation and it is not even close. For an individual age 55, Bronze coverage averages $314, Silver $405 and Gold $507. But the rates offered by the two insurance companies offering coverage in Alaska is $540, $665 and $834, nearly 50 percent higher than the national average. Compare this with the difference in overall cost of living which is just under 30 percent. Why is this so? Lack of competition, lack of any prepaid health care plans (HMOs), no downward pressure on providers to limit rate hikes. The state has huge potential leverage to negotiate rates for its employees, but has never sought to do so. Why does this matter? It is a huge barrier to our businesses being competitive with Lower 48 firms. If we are going to diversify this economy away from dependence upon oil, we have to confront this.
— William Dann