Health Care Complexity: A Letter to the Anchorage Daily News

“The Price is Right, but What About the Cost? Sandra Heffern Takes on Jim Grazko’s Healthcare Comments for Alaska”

Sandra Heffern, in response to Jim Grazko’s commentary, argues that while bringing health care costs into the network and controlling payments is an important step in reducing Alaska’s high health care costs, it is not the only solution. She emphasizes that there is a difference between price and cost, with insurers like Premera focusing on the price they pay and healthcare providers concerned about the cost of providing care.

Grazko compared Premera Alaska’s healthcare “costs” to those in Washington but failed to provide any comparison to other commercial insurers such as Aetna or Moda. He mentioned Medicaid and Medicare but only offered general comparisons to commercial insurance products. Heffern notes that it would be difficult for Premera to compare the amounts paid for healthcare across multiple payers as Alaska does not currently have the structure to collect or analyze this type of data.

Heffern cautions against thinking that repealing the 80th percentile will be an “easy button” to reducing Alaska’s high health care costs. She emphasizes that health care pricing and costs are complex and that providers are striving to provide high-quality care for Alaska patients. Readers can submit their thoughts on this topic by sending letters to or through any web browser if they have something on their mind. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published and should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

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