Mountlake Terrace, Washington, UNITED STATES

Mountlake Terrace, Wash., March 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, a leading health plan in the state, today announced $50 million in investments over five years to provide continued stability to the individual insurance market, improve access to care in rural areas and support local communities in their efforts to address behavioral health issues impacting their residents.

Premera also notified state regulators that it remains committed to serving customers who purchase their health insurance on the individual market. Premera remains the only health plan serving customers on the individual market.

These investments are made possible because of recent changes to the U.S. corporate tax system resulting in a one-time-only refund for the company.

These investments are in addition to the one-time-only reimbursement of $25 million Premera made last December to the state’s reinsurance program. The reimbursement was made following much lower than expected claims from Alaska customers. Predicting the use of medical services is especially difficult for insurance companies in small individual markets like Alaska with fewer than 20,000 customers where just a handful of customers can cause dramatic swings in the amounts paid out in claims and where approximately 30 percent of customers enter or leave the market each year.

“This unexpected tax refund is an opportunity for us to look beyond our own business needs and address critical issues in the communities where we live and work,” said Jim Grazko, President and General Manager of Premera’s Alaska office.

Premera will focus its customer and community investments to address three key areas:

  • Customers and market stability, including investments to ensure continued stability of the Alaska individual market. The tax savings are expected to trigger premium rebates for individual and small group customers under the medical loss ratio provision of the Affordable Care Act. Premera also expects to return approximately $1.5 million in taxes charged to large group customers in 2018.
  • Improved access to health care in rural areas, including initiatives to attract and support health care providers in rural areas as well as offering enhanced telemedicine and tele-psychiatry programs.
  • Behavioral health, including nearly $8 million commitment over five years to support efforts across Alaska to address a wide variety of behavioral health issues such as addiction and adverse childhood experiences, with a specific focus on how these issues impact homelessness.

Further investments in these areas will be identified and made over the course of the next four years. The company looks forward to continuing to work with state regulators to address the state’s critical healthcare needs.

Premera, like other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, was first required to pay federal taxes as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The 2017 Tax Reform Act directed the federal government to refund certain prior tax payments to eligible companies over a four year period.

About Premera

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, which has operated in Alaska since 1952, is a not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Premera and its family of companies provide comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to approximately 2 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies.



A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


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