Hawaii Health Connector addresses problems

Published On: Oct 18 2013 05:43:55 PM HST   Updated On: Oct 18 2013 10:12:07 PM HST

There have been 77,173 visitors to the Hawaii Health Connector website since it launched Oct. 1.

That's according to its board, which had a meeting Friday for the first time since its website went online.

Since then, 2,249 applications were created, but only 440 were completed.

The site has had its share of problems since its debut and AARP Hawaii showed up at the meeting wanting answers.

"It was behind schedule," said AARP Hawaii Director of Advocacy Steve Tam. "Really, the consumer was the loser in this whole process."

The Connector's executive director, Coral Andrews, said it was "up and running" on Oct. 1, but Tam said the Connector's site wasn't "open for business" until Tuesday, when health insurance plans and rates became available.

Coral said this "glitch" was actually a "contingency plan" to make sure its complex site, which integrates state and federal hubs and regulations, would make it online in time.

"These systems normally take about three years to build. We've had less than a year to do that," said Andrews.

AARP officials also asked for weekly public reports, with enrollment and application numbers. Andrews said the Connector would release that data.

Tam said the Connector announced it has 34 community organizations for outreach, but its website lists just 12.

"So what we're not sure of is, what happened to the other organizations?" Tam said. "Have they been contacted and what's the status of that?"

Andrews said many of these organizations are still finalizing contracts and training.

She said, "The marketplace's sister organizations don't get listed on our website until they've completed the full cycle of those activities."

As far as the long and complex application process, Andrews said it's driven by the federal government.

"They need to be prepared that there typically is at least an overnight wait to determine eligibility for Medicaid and also for financial assistance," said Tam.

The Connector officials said it hopes to have real-time Medicaid eligibility by April.


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