Lack of Health Insurance for Commercial Fisherman Prevents Industry Growth

An article in Alaska Public Media recently discussed the growing issue of the lack of affordable health insurance for commercial fishermen and the impact it has on the industry as a whole. According to the article, a sizeable portion of Alaskan fishermen choose to forgo insurance altogether, since affordable healthcare is not provided for them. A 2009 study by Small Business Majority discovered that 32 percent of Alaskan fishermen were not covered, and that 75 percent said they preferred being able to choose between a private or public health insurance plan. This lack of insurance for commercial fishermen is deterring potential employees from getting into the business, which is detrimental to areas and states like Alaska where fishing is a huge industry.

Petersburg-Wrangell insurance owner Susan Erickson pointed out that many fishermen opt for higher deductibles to “offset the monthly premium,” but that they then need to be “pretty sick before the health insurance carrier’s going to kick in.” Even Erickson admitted that the cost to provide health benefits for her half-dozen employees is “ridiculous for a small-group plan.”

Even with limited resources to choose from, it is vitally important that fishermen are either covered under a spouse’s health insurance plan or find one of their own. In different areas, there are organizations that will help fisherman in obtaining health insurance for their themselves to cover non work related injuries and for their families.  

Are You a Fisherman That Has Been Injured on the Job?

For fisherman and/or merchant seaman who are injured on the job, they are covered under the doctrine of  maintenance and cure.  Under cure, the employer has to pay for all medical expenses for any medical condition that arose during the course of the person’s employment.   If you have any questions, please regarding medical expenses or health insurance, please call our office today to discuss your case.

Latti & Anderson LLPNationwide maritime attorneys