Alaska Considers Single-Payer Health Care

Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium pic
Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
Image: searhc.org

Since 2012, Charles Clement has been the chief executive officer and president of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. With previous positions at the Southcentral Foundation and Aetna US Healthcare, Charles Clement has spent his professional life in Alaska’s health care industry. For Alaska and Colorado business professionals, drastic change may be on the horizon as the states consider a single-payer health care system.

Traditionally in the United States, our third-party payer system means that we pay premiums to insurance companies like Aetna. In a single-payer system, the government provides health care, with citizens paying higher taxes to make up for it.

While Colorado is putting the decision to a vote, Alaska is considering it out of desperation, as the state has only one commercial insurer for residents under age 65. Since 2015, the state has lost three insurers due to Alaska’s isolation and relatively small population.

In June 2016, the Alaska state government approved a bill to subsidize health care costs for high-risk patients, paid for by levied taxes on insurance. Switching to a single-payer health care system will give Alaskans something in common with their closest neighbor, Canada, which is also on a single-payer system.

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