Letters to the Editor

Letter: Health care complexity

Responding to Jim Grazko’s commentary, “Repealing 80th percentile rule is vital to Alaska,” his premise seems to be that the only way for health care costs in Alaska to be reduced is for health care insurers such as Premera to bring them into the network and control how much they will pay. There is a difference in price and cost.

The insurer, Premera, is concerned with the price they are paying. Providers of health care are concerned with the cost of providing that health care. Grazko compared a few of Premera Alaska’s health care “costs” to those in Washington, yet failed to present what other commercial insurers, such as Aetna or Moda, are currently paying. He mentioned Medicaid and Medicare, yet provided only broad generalizations of the comparison to commercial insurance products.

In Grazko’s defense, it would be difficult for Premera to compare the amounts paid for health care across multiple payers, as Alaska does not currently have the structure to collect or analyze these types of data. Other states have a database called an all-payer claims database that would help us better understand who’s paying for what.

I would caution all of us to think the repeal of the 80th percentile will be the “easy button” to reducing Alaska’s high health care costs. Health care pricing and costs are complicated, as providers strive to provide high-quality care for Alaska patients.

— Sandra Heffern


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