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Alaska’s State Planning Grant to Identify Options for Expanding Coverage for Alaska's Uninsured

Focus Groups

Focus groups being conducted by the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of Alaska, Anchorage are focusing on the qualitative questions regarding the uninsured. Ultimately we believe the focus group information will provide the overall data collection with unique and important findings to further explain the dilemma and needs Alaskans perceive regarding health insurance. We decided to contract with our State affiliated university, University of Alaska, Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER). This group has extensive knowledge with designing, conducting and evaluating focus groups. Several of the staff has trained with Richard Krueger.

The design and development of the content and mission of the focus groups was done collaboratively with the SPG staff. The SPG Leadership group has been kept aware of the progress and direction as well. The main purpose of this project is to determine, according to the specific group, what health insurance means; how they define health insurance, health benefits; what keep them from having health insurance; what is their view of Medicaid and Denali KidCare and how they would value health insurance. The questions listed in this report have been considered and most will be used in one format or another. In coordination we have set a timeline to conduct a minimum or 12 and a maximum of 21 focus groups. We have divided the State into geographic groups, ethnic groups, employment groups and those who primarily serve the uninsured.

ISER has researched the content and outcome of several other states to use as a model. There will be a questionnaire conducted prior to the start of each focus group to collect such information as age; ethnicity, gender; community; employment status, place of employment; length of employment; existing health insurance and coverage. We anticipate the collection of this specific data will be helpful to formulate the focus group findings into categories for the summary report.

The focus groups will begin in October 2006. Weekly phone conferences are held with ISER and SPG staff to assure timelines are met and the project remains on-target.