Lost insurance jobs

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2004

In the May 30, 2004, Juneau Empire, Alaska Department of Labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray wrote an editorial about foreigners grabbing Alaska jobs. I would like to inform him of another offender. Jobs are being shipped out of state by the state of Alaska. These are jobs that could be kept here and done by state employees.

The state of Alaska provides thousands of current and former state employees with health insurance coverage. Workers in other states process the health insurance claims of these employees. There are many jobs lost to Alaskans because of this. In addition, the profits that the insurance companies make don't provide one penny of coverage. Alaskan wages are being shipped out of state and spent in other states instead of Alaska.

Jobs are not the only loss to the state. The state does not have very good information on the fees providers charge. If the state processes the claims and pays providers directly, then it can monitor the prices charged by various providers and pharmacies. This information can be used to help the claimants find the best deals on medications and providers. This should help lower health care costs for the state of Alaska.

The last benefit goes to the providers. I had over 28 years of public service before retiring from state and city service. Over those 28 years, the typical payment by insurance companies was several weeks and sometimes much longer. The providers have to wait long periods of time before they are paid for their services. The state could process these claims much faster than any of the insurance companies do. Maybe Commissioner O'Claray could talk with Gov. Murkowski and look into this problem. I think it deserves to be studied.

Gary Miller


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