One of the more entertaining reality TV families out there is the Brown family, the stars of Alaskan Bush People. Forgoing modern luxuries such as dentistry, this hardy band eschews modern softness for the soul enriching wilderness that makes for entertaining TV. Could they be the models for the near future of Alaskan health care? We hear a lot about how the Affordable Care Act has had more than a few growing pains since it was forcibly induced, so how is it going in a state with plenty of access issues?
Let’s ask Gunnar Ebbesson, a Fairbanks small business owner whose “premium for his family of five came to more than $40,000 a year…[for] a bare bones plan with a $10,000 deductible that he buys through the marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act.” Well sure, seems a little pricey, but Ebbesson – who supports the ACA – should get a subsidy, right? Not with an income of $142K per year he won’t. ““I’m not able to put money in retirement, savings for my kid for college, my ten year old. Believe me I could find lots of stuff to do for my future with $40,000,” he says.” Sounds to me like he just doesn’t want to be a team player, when so many others are in need.
As in the Lower 48, Premera Alaska – one of two Alaska carriers on the exchange – claims to be losing millions despite premium hikes. What IS it about demand increases coupled with stagnant supply that causes price spikes and shortages?
Undeterred by basic economics, Anchorage dental hygienist Victoria Cronquist “doesn’t care what the solution is, as long as it helps her find more affordable insurance.” Okay, $1,600 a month for a family of four seems like a lot – until it goes to $2,600/month next year.
She does get an exchange stipend, but it’s not going up, and so may have to cancel her insurance. “To be quite frank, to have a $2,600 monthly premium payment and all this is stressful to me. Extremely. And that increases my odds of getting ill! That’s the other way I look at it,” she says.”
What these unpatriotic Alaskan whiners discount is that they’ll be pushed “into a category that allows them to avoid paying the penalty for going uninsured. The law includes an “unaffordability” exemption if the lowest cost insurance amounts to more than eight percent of income.” See, no problem! Obama & His Merry Persons were going to see you covered, and if you aren’t, they graciously created a loophole to keep you out of trouble with the IRS. So you’re not as covered as you hoped – it’s not like any new doctors, nurses, or hospital beds were created, so you really didn’t lose much, apart from the thousands of dollars spent to provide equally tenuous coverage to your less fortunate neighbors. And since the odds are pretty good you won’t get appendicitis or break a leg – well, not today, anyway – you can follow the Browns and skip all that high falootin’ medical care. And if you can’t afford insurance which might not pay anyway, there is no real incentive to live near any semblance of a modern health infrastructure, so maybe creating your own Browntown out in the bush and just toughing it out is the best way to go. Maybe that was the Obama plan all along.Tweet