by Andrew Walden
With the March 31 deadline for Obamacare 2014 open enrollment fast approaching, business at the troubled Hawaii Health Connector is lagging.
A March 1 Connector update shows 20,018 have applied for insurance via the Connector, 4,661 individuals have enrolled and 467 employers have applied. These numbers are little changed from the Connector’s previous weekly update. In the week between February 22 and March 1, 393 applications were received, 194 individuals enrolled, and only 11 businesses applied.
The five month total gap between applied and enrolled--15,357--is believed to consist largely of Medicaid applicants whose paperwork is slowly grinding its way through the Hawaii Department of Human Services bureaucracy. This averages 3,071 Medicaid applications per month.
Federal ACA stats show that 5,690 people applied for Medicaid in Hawaii in the three months before the October 1 launch of the Hawaii Health Connector—an average of 1,897 per month. The post-Obamacare increase averages out to an additional 1,174 persons applying for Medicaid each month since October 1. If this holds, by March 31, just 7,044 additional persons in Hawaii will have applied for Medicaid under the ACA. (Note: These figures are for applications, not eligibility determinations.) Hawaii Medicaid eligibility was increased from 133% of poverty to 138% effective October 1.
A 2003 report for the US Department of Health and Human Services shows that Medicaid programs run about 20% annual turnover.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Hawaii in 2010 had 265,588 persons enrolled in Medicaid. A factor of 20% yields approximately 53,000 annual turnover or 4,400 monthly turnover.
In the unlikely scenario that 100% of the 7,044 new Medicaid applicants are deemed eligible and then enroll, that would total about a month and a half of Hawaii Medicaid population turnover.
The Health Connector cost $205M to construct. An Honolulu Star-Advertiser March 2 editorial pointed out that “elaborate online exchanges haven't worked in many places — like Hawaii — and ultimately may not be needed at all.”