5 Things We’re Watching – Alaska, September 2013

With our annual conference held next week, it gives us a chance to bring those topics we are watching most closely onto the center stage for a broader community discussion.

So, this month we feature 5 Things you’ll find at our conference on October 4th in one of the most diverse, substantive events of the year in health care!  We’d love to have you with us.

DJ Wilson - Host, State of Reform 

1. The Feds, the Commission and ANTHC talk healthcare

The goal of State of Reform is to bridge the gaps in communication and understanding which often exist in healthcare and which preclude good policy and market outcomes.

Which is why we’re so excited to have Susan Johnson (US Dept of HHS), Ward Hurlburt, MD (Alaska Health Care Commission) and Roald Helgesen (ANTHC) all together on stage for one of our keynote panels.

The session will focus on areas of agreement, where collaboration can be most easily fostered, and where Alaskans will benefit most directly.

2. Alaskan brokers becoming national leaders

Of all of the states in which we work, it’s Alaska that has the most organized, engaged broker community.  We’ll feature some of their innovative work on Oct 4th.

The Wilson Agency, working with their UBA partners, has developed what may be one of the more innovative approaches for small businesses in the country: a model which allows employee choice, tax benefits for both employer and employee, and the benefits of the exchange.

Northrim Benefits has re-branded some of their work in the new “Enroll Alaska,” which is engaging the market in a way as organized and thoughtful as any we’ve we’ve seen.  It’s filling a tremendous gap in the employer knowledge base.


3. Payment reform efforts including the State, APCA, Trust

Many folks tell us that Josh Applebee, Deputy Director of Healthcare Policy at DHSS, is one of the smartest folks working in Alaska healthcare these days.  We agree entirely.

Which is why his session called “A Discussion on Payment Reform and Principles” is something we’re watching.

It’ll be a conversation as part of a larger stakeholder effort the state and its partners are fostering.  It’s a chance for our attendees to help shape the payment reform policies under consideration and development right now.

4. “Consumer empowerment, on steroids”

Providence is implementing a tool for their employees to be able to grade local physicians on care, while at the same time know exactly how much a service will cost them based on their level of insurance benefits.

Vera Whole Health is a service which brings primary care on-site to larger employers so that employees can have better access to primary care services.  They focus on patient empowerment so that patients know how to manage their health rather than simply respond when they are sick.

These are two of the stories you’ll hear on the panel “Innovations that Empower Consumers.”

AK Trust

5. See a demonstration of the new insurance marketplace 

With the federal insurance marketplace, née exchange, operational on October 1st, we’ll have a demonstration of the tool hosted by CMS.  You’ll be able to see it yourself how the site works, which options are available for purchasers, and how well the service functions.

We’ll also have Brett Kolb, Director of Division of Insurance, on hand to talk through the process of getting plans to market from the regulatory view of the State of Alaska.