Fishermen’s Fund benefits now at $10,000
Alaska’s Fishermen’s Fund, an emergency medical fund for commercial fishermen now has a benefit limit of $10,000, up from the old maximum of $2,500, program director Velma Thomas told participants in COMFISH Alaska 2013 on April 11.
The fund, which is financed from revenue received for commercial fishing licenses and permit fees, has approved 185 claims since the fiscal year began July 1, with another 100 claims still pending, she said.
A lot of the claims are for hand and back injuries, and more than 50 percent of the claim applicants have no other insurance, said Thomas, who works for the Alaska Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Claim applicants come primarily from set netters and boat owners who have no other insurance, she said. There are a lot of claims out of District 3, areas west of Yakutat to the east coast of the Alaska Peninsula, including Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Kodiak, she said.
The Fishermen’s Fund was established back in 1951 to provide for the treatment and care of Alaska licensed commercial fishermen who have been injured while fishing on shore or off shore in Alaska. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development oversees the program, with assistance from the fund’s advisory and appeals council.
All applicants for funds must have valid commercial fishing licenses or limited entry permits before the time of injury, Thomas noted.
Regulations call for primary insurance, if available, to be billed first. This includes private health or vessel insurance, and public programs, including Veterans’ Affairs or Medicare. The Fishermen’s Fund will pay before Medicaid only, and, said Thomas, protection and indemnity insurance deductibles are not covered by the Fishermen’s Fund.
More information on the fund and how to apply for benefits is at www.labor.state.ak.us/wc/ffund.htm