State's faltering health insurance marketplace triggers Senate probe
One week after the debut of the Hawaii Health Connector, its Executive Director sat before a Senate Health Committee, apologizing and asking for understanding.
"Oct. 1 didn't look exactly the way we wanted it too, but it's imperative we have your continued support," said Coral Andrews.
Click here to see Lara Yamada's report.
Right now, customers can see the Connector's 95 plans dispersed amongst four premium levels, but can't actually sign up for them, or see how much they cost.
But Andrews said her staff has added links to participating insurance companies that do show rates, and has pledged to get the connector up "in full" by Oct.15.
“I think there was a lot more information and a lot more intricacy than perhaps some of the IT folks had thought and they got caught up in the time frame,” said Sen. Roz Baker, Heath Committee Chair.
Lawmakers focused on clearing confusion for small business owners -- Baker -- wanting a web section dedicated to frequently asked questions.
Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito did say small businesses will only be allowed to chose from the Connector's most expensive plans, but added, those costs will be offset by sizable tax breaks that would peak at up to 50 percent by 2015.
Still he admits, for the time being, it's those grey areas that are keeping some consumers and the state's other insurers from signing up.
“It's not unique to Hawaii. Many insurers in other states have started to wait it out essentially and see what happens in 2014,” said Ito.
“This is a very big program, and it will take time for people to understand it,” said Andrews.
“Would I have wanted no bumps in the road, of course, but I don't think that's realistic,” said Baker.
Consumers have until Dec. 15 to sign up for health insurance to get coverage by the start of the new year.
Those who don't sign up by March will face an annual penalty.
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