Just 8,200, or 21 percent of individuals enrolled on Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange have paid for their health premiums this year, according to a report released this week. This shockingly low number is the latest in a series of bad headlines for the exchange, which has announced it will transition to the federally run Healthcare.gov because of financial problems. In total 38,000 individuals are currently enrolled on Hawaii Health Connector, about half as many as is needed for the exchange to become financially viable.
When asked why so few enrollees have paid for their premiums as of March 31, the exchange gave the vague explanation that it takes time for people to receive and pay bills. When pressed further, Executive Director Jeff Kissell admitted that “A lot of them haven’t even been billed.”
The inability to complete this simple task is just another reason why Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange has failed.
The $205 million state exchange has failed to reach financial viability despite spending nearly $24,000 for each individual it enrolled in its first year of operations. The state needed at least 32,000 more enrollees, but this assumes that they actually pay their premiums. As the exchange cannot support itself, the federal government has begun implementing a plan to disband Hawaii Health Connector and transition individuals to the federal exchange.
Just last month, it was announced that Hawaii enrolled zero individuals during a special enrollment period. Earlier this week, the state’s main healthcare provider requested a 49 percent increase in premiums for individuals enrolled on the Hawaii exchange.
By the end of the month the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of subsidies for individuals enrolled on Obama’s federal exchange. Exchange officials in states that rely Healthcare.gov are beginning to panic about their options if they are forced to set up their own state administered exchanges. If Hawaii’s experiences are anything to go by, the creation of new state exchanges will be a complex and chaotic process.