From the Editor

We Wish You a Merry Checkup

I can’t think of a place I’d rather be in winter than Alaska. It truly is a wonderland, I mean, Mr. and Mrs. Claus live just a plane ride from our offices. But with the good always comes the not-so-good, in this case colds, flus, even pneumonia and general malaise from long, dark days. For most of us, a few days in bed are enough to get back on our feet and into the frosty air. For others, a trip to the family doctor will do the trick. But for those without or with limited insurance, finding a solution to illness (physical and emotional) doesn’t come easy. Even at the best of times health insurance is a complicated and confusing system—especially in Alaska, which has the highest healthcare costs in the country.

And while we celebrate the great parts of living in Alaska (even with the flu) during the holiday season, we also recognize there are many businesses that struggle to offer health insurance to their employees. The average cost for the lowest-priced small business health insurance plan in Alaska is about $715 per employee each month, according to Healthcare.gov, meaning that providing healthcare benefits for employees often comes at the cost of the employer’s ability to branch out, invest, or even insure themselves.

Kathryn Mackenzie

Kathryn Mackenzie
Managing Editor, Alaska Business

“The average cost for the lowest-priced small business health insurance plan in Alaska is about $715 per employee each month, according to Healthcare.gov, meaning that providing healthcare benefits for employees often comes at the cost of the employer’s ability to branch out, invest, or even insure themselves.”

For consumers who don’t have commercial or employer-provided insurance, there are options, but they aren’t always optimal. One is Medicaid (not to be confused with Medicare… see it’s confusing!) which offers healthcare coverage to low-income families or individuals. In our annual healthcare special section, we examine how to navigate the state-run system for healthcare providers and facilities that want to become authorized Medicaid providers. Given that Alaska has seen a net increase in Medicaid enrollment of 80 percent since the first Marketplace Open Enrollment Period and related Medicaid program changes in 2013—knowing the ins and outs of accepting Medicaid patients is and will remain increasingly important.

A healthcare special section in December wouldn’t be complete without talking about how Alaska cares for one of its most vulnerable populations: children. Children are often unable to communicate how they’re feeling effectively so we talked to pediatricians around the state about how they overcome professional obstacles to make sure our tiny Alaskans can get back to worrying about their next candy fix.

Alaska faces many challenges when it comes to offering, finding, and receiving healthcare. But they are not insurmountable challenges thanks to the state’s dedicated, extremely hardworking providers. To them we say thank you. To you we say… stay healthy!