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Thursday, October 3, 2013
Hawaii Health Connector Secret Rates Revealed? HMSA Premium Jumps 44%
By Andrew Walden @ 11:59 PM :: 5829 Views :: Health Care

by Andrew Walden

In its third day of operation the Hawaii Health Connector remains unable or unwilling to reveal the costs and coverage of the HMSA and Kaiser health insurance plans taxpayers are paying them to sell.  Today’s Star-Advertiser reports:

The state Insurance Division approved health plans for individuals and small businesses, but the Connector has been unable to load the rates properly on the website and won't release the information until the problem is fixed.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:

Laura Lott, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii, said the exchange is waiting for approval from insurers because the software on the exchange's system isn't loading correctly.

"They are working on a fix on their side," Lott said, "They do have all our plans and all our rates."

When asked why the delay is happening, Budar cited the insurers' approval and public feedback that consumers don't want to sign up for plans right away....

After three days of complete failure to sell insurance, the Insurance Division, the insurers, and the seemingly misnamed Health Connector are all pointing fingers.  But unnoticed in the commotion, the secret insurance rates have already been made ‘public’ in thousands of letters sent out to HMSA and Kaiser customers statewide.

Hawai’i Free Press September 12, 2013 broke the story of HMSA’s move to dump 1000s of individual PPO and HMO plans – effective January 1--into the substandard ‘Bronze’ plan which has a $6350 deductible and no prescription drug benefits for non-generics.  We were able to report this information only because we obtained a copy of one of the HMSA cancellation letters.  The Obamacare Bronze and Silver plans are available only to individuals.  They are forbidden for business group coverage because they do not meet the minimum requirements of the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act which mandates a maximum 20% deductible

Six legislative committees will conduct an Informational Hearing at the Capitol October 9.  The agenda includes this item: “Representatives of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and Office of the Governor will discuss the convergence of Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care law and ACA for businesses and consumers.”  Does Obamacare set the stage for a repeal of Prepaid?  Abercrombie's 2010 “New Day” campaign platform stated:  “…the Prepaid Healthcare Act that has served Hawaii so well now must be revisited. A new vision of providing healthcare to everyone in Hawaii must emerge….”

The September 30th Star-Advertiser revealed that 56,000 HMSA members are being cut off their old insurance policies or facing massive rate hikes mandated by Obamacare.  According to the article: “HMSA members affected by the rate changes total 14,000 individuals and 8,000 small businesses with roughly 42,000 employees. For most small businesses, rates will change on the July 1 policy renewal date.”

Hawai’i Free Press has received an HMSA letter sent to a local couple, non-smokers, with no children on their policy, one in her 40s and the other in his 50s.  Under their current small-business group coverage they are paying $810.56 per month.  Their new price effective July 1, 2014 will be $1,166.24 per month – a whopping 44% increase.

Signed by HMSA CEO Michael Gold, the letter blames Obamacare for the hike: 

The state insurance commissioner has approved HMSA’s rates for small business.  In the past, we were able to give you a single average rate that applied to all your employees and their dependents.  However the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now requires HMSA and all other health insurers to rate each individual separately by age. For example, a company with 30 employees and dependents could have 30 different rates.  To simplify the process, we’ve calculated your new group rate by adding the rates for the 2 individuals you currently cover through HMSA….  The rate listed … may be significantly different from what you’re paying now. 

The letter and its recipients' current HMSA bill may be seen: HERE.

If a married couple with no children pays $1,166,24 a month, how much does coverage cost for a family with children on the policy?

Send a copy of your HMSA letter to Editor@HawaiiFreePress.com and help break the information blockade.  Your anonymity will be respected.

---30---

Full Text: HMSA Group Coverage Letter

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