Injured fisherman can now receive up to $10,000 to cover emergency healthcare costs through the state’s Alaska Fishermen’s Fund.
The legislature boosted the maximum benefit in 2010 from $2,50o to $10,000. Velma Thomas with the Alaska Department of Labor says many fishermen have not learned about the changes in the program or how to take advantage of it.
“It’s an emergency medical fund. It pays after private insurance has been billed or public assistance was provided. To qualify for benefits, you must have a valid commercial fishing license at the time of the injury. The injury must be directly connected to your commercial fishing activity and have occurred in Alaska or Alaskan waters,” said Thomas.
The program paid out $866,000 last year to fishermen. The program so far in FY-2013 has received 475 claims, including 100 out of the district that includes Bristol Bay.
“We see quite a few back injuries: strains, pulls, hernias. As long as it’s commercial fishing related,” said Thomas.
The Legislature’s decision to raise the maximum done in part to cover rapidly rising health care costs.
“Especially if you’re isolated, the medevac, you could look at $10,000 to $20,000 just to get to a provider. For other fractures, you could look at $25,000. It’s pretty costly,” said Thomas.
As fishermen prepare for the busy 2013 season, Thomas recommends getting licenses quickly to ensure eligibility.
“Before a captain hires crew, they should ensure as they’re hired, they should get the license as soon as possible,” said Thomas.
The Fishermen’s Fund predates statehood. It’s been paying for emergency fishing injuries since 1951.
- "Her focus on education, her focus on examining our city budget at a really deep level, not just a broad stroke policy level, but getting into the line items – I think that’s a really valuable for assembly members to go after the budget work," said Deputy Mayor Jesse Kiehl.
- Rep. Les Gara wants to make sure state budget cuts don’t fall too heavily on working-class and low-income people. Instead, he wants a new business tax.
- The Legislative Council is seeking advice from a finance expert on what to do about the controversial lease on the Anchorage Legislative Information Office.
- For the first time, scientists have documented the prevalence of two biotoxins in Alaska’s marine mammal population above the Arctic Circle.