Alaska non-profit health insurance option extended to small businesses

Amid spiraling health care costs, Alaska's small businesses have a new health insurance option this year.

A health insurance plan created more than a year ago for Alaska nonprofits is now being extended to private employers, the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage-based Foraker Group announced Tuesday.

The approximate 500 members of the state chamber -- ranging from repair shops to tug boat and tour operators -- can now apply to join the Foraker-created plan and offer health benefits to their workers.

In expanding the plan to potentially thousands more participants, officials from the state chamber and Foraker said they hope to make health insurance more affordable for Alaska's small employers -- many of whom can't afford it but wish they could because it would help them attract and retain good workers.

State and federal data shows that most small businesses in Alaska and elsewhere in the country do not offer health insurance to their workers.

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