Maui News

Enrollment in Healthcare.gov Extended for Eligible Hawaiʻi Residents

December 24, 2015, 2:30 PM HST
* Updated December 28, 1:01 AM
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Wailuku Health Center photo by Wendy Osher.

Wailuku Health Center photo by Wendy Osher.

The State of Hawaiʻi has negotiated an agreement to offer a special enrollment period for eligible Hawaiʻi residents from the Compact of Free Association nations who are seeking health care coverage through healthcare.gov.

Governor David Ige announced the agreement today reached with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service. The additional enrollment period was approved by CMS to address barriers to enrollment for citizens from the Compact nations as a result of the state’s transition from a private non-profit marketplace to Healthcare.gov.

The enrollment will be effective for up to 60 days from Dec. 18, and participating Hawaiʻi health insurance plans have agreed to make coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016 to avoid any gaps during the special enrollment period.

“When people have access to affordable health care coverage, their health outcomes are more positive, and our four decades of experience with Hawaiʻi’s Prepaid Health Care Act of 1974 have shown us that. We appreciate the federal government’s understanding of the special circumstances our residents from Compact nations face when seeking health care services in Hawai‘i,” said Gov. Ige in a press release statement.

Human Service officials say that one of the most critical barriers to enrollment has been the need for increased interpreter services on the Healthcare.gov call center for Hawai‘i residents from the Compact nations.

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“Our outreach team – who joined us from the Connector and have deep connections in the community – continues to work closely with local assistor organizations to walk people through the process of re-enrollment,” said Rachael Wong, Director of Human Services.

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According to data just released from CMS, the total number of lives covered through 2015 enrollment in the Hawai‘i Health Connector was 16,803. For the current 2016 open enrollment period, which started on Nov. 1, preliminary reports from the Hawai‘i Insurance Division indicate enrollments of approximately 12,500 lives.

State officials say that the difference between 2015 and 2016 data is likely related to citizens from Compact nations who have been unable to enroll in Healthcare.gov.

On Dec. 4, 2015, the State of Hawai‘i accepted responsibility for certain functions of the private, non-profit, Hawai‘i Health Connector, which closed operations due to insufficient funding. State officials say that due to the demise of the Connector, individuals who received health insurance coverage in 2015 through the Connector are required to re-enroll in Healthcare.gov to receive coverage in 2016.

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The CMS guidance on the Special Enrollment Period for Compact of Free Association Migrants in Hawaii is posted online.

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