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Tackling the High Cost of Alaskan Healthcare

Mar 15, 2019 | Featured, Healthcare, HR Matters, Insurance, Magazine

greg loudon

By Greg Loudon

Greg Loudon is a Principal of Parker, Smith & Feek and leads our Employee Benefits practice. A lifelong Alaskan, Greg has more than 25 years of experience in employee benefits consulting and is active in state and national healthcare reform. Greg can be reached at gsloudon@psfinc.com or (907) 865-6829.

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When you read the word,“Healthcare,” I bet your first thought is, “My insurance premium and out-of-pocket costs are killing me.” For business owners, increasing healthcare costs are squeezing out other investments and limiting growth opportunities.

But it is not all bad news; positive things are happening too. We are Alaskans, after all. How many of us just shrug our shoulders and give up when a problem arises? Growing up in Fairbanks, I learned from my family, friends, and neighbors that when we see a problem, we craft a solution. Parker, Smith & Feek, partners with the nonprofit Pacific Health Coalition (PHC) to do just that. PHC was formed two decades ago to create opportunities for lower costs, more flexibility, and better access to healthcare.

About the Pacific Health Coalition

When it comes to saving money for Alaskans and employers throughout the Northwest, PHC is always looking for ways to innovate and provide quality care more efficiently. Their 250,000 members aggregate spending power to save a combined $500 million a year in healthcare costs.

PHC works with innovative partners like Aetna, Alaska Regional Hospital, Beacon Occupational Health, Alaska Center for ENT, Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic, and others to ensure that their patients get the best possible care at the best possible price.

PHC hosts and manages health fairs throughout Alaska and Washington each fall. In 2018, they held nineteen health fairs in eleven cities, providing flu shots and preventive screenings to 7,000 people. Additionally, over the last few years, PHC opened primary care clinics in Fairbanks and Anchorage, reducing costs while improving access for their members and families.

Soon, the partnership between PHC and Aetna will allow small businesses to participate in and take advantage of PHC’s considerable purchasing power and expertise. This new option will provide cost savings for Alaskan employers.

Several years ago, PHC began offering options for employees who wanted to travel outside Alaska for care. A partnership forged with Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic last fall will now help keep Alaskans home for surgery by cutting costs in half for many procedures, allowing patients to stay close to their families and support systems.

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Pacific Health Coalition’s Impact on Alaskan Healthcare

Why are these partnerships and innovations important? They demonstrate that private sector organizations, like PHC and its peers, have the flexibility needed to make a significant impact on Alaska’s healthcare costs. Unlike a state-run organization, they can quickly adapt and work on creative solutions that make a difference in Alaska. The Alaska Chamber recently passed a resolution encouraging our legislators to look at private sector solutions before implementing a state-run healthcare authority.

I am encouraged by what PHC and many similar private sector organizations are accomplishing. PHC is committed to working with the state and otherprivate sector innovators to find practical solutions to foster a better Alaska healthcare system with quality care and lower costs. If you are interested in learning more about PHC or other healthcare resources for Alaskans, contact an experienced employee benefits broker for more information.

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