About 1,800 additional Alaskans have applied for individual insurance plans this year alone, and, according to Earling, roughly 250 of those applicants have been turned away due to pre-existing conditions.
“The critical issue is trying to create balance so all these costs are able to be covered and the premiums are kept under control as much as possible for all of our customers,” Earling says.
Earling estimates another 160 Alaskans will be turned away by Premera before the end of 2012 due to pre-existing conditions, which leaves applicants with only one other avenue for coverage.
"There's a high risk pool that's specifically designed to be able to offer coverage to the folks with specific medical needs," Earling says.
Earling says Premera's emphasis is on personal responsibility and encouraging applicants to obtain coverage while still healthy, as it is the only clear way to guarantee long-term care.
"The specific issue there is you want to encourage people to buy and maintain medical coverage," says Earling.
On an overcast July night, Wendy “Bliss” Snipes greeted friends at Hill Top Ski Area’s Chalet, each receiving a big bear hug.
"Oh, my goodness. Thanks for coming. How are you?" Snipes said, her voice one of elation, as she greeted each attendee. All were there to participate in a "Benefit for Bliss," a fund raising effort thrown by friends to help Snipes as she struggled financially in her fourth battle with cancer.