October 1, 2012 at 7:28 PM HST - Updated June 28 at 3:29 AM
Governor Neil Abercrombie unveiled HMSA's Preferred Provider Plan 2010 as Hawaii's benchmark healthcare package for the state's 83,000 uninsured.
The federal government is requiring that all states choose a package of health benefits for the uninsured -as the nation transitions to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) by the year 2014.
State officials say the move towards the Affordable Care Act in 2014 won't be difficult - since many of Hawaii's existing health plans already meet at least some minimum requirements. They say HMSA's plan best suits the state's needs.
State Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito says, "Some of the criteria that we had used in selecting was based on the benefit package that offered the most benefits, the affordability. We also considered what plan would create the least market disruption."
The selected package includes a minimum of 10 federally-mandated benefits - what Governor Abercrombie calls "The 10 Commandments" of healthcare. It includes: ambulatory and ER services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorders services (including behavioral health treatment), prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, as well as lab services, preventative and wellness services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services (including oral and vision care).
The Governor explains, "For those 80,000+ people in Hawaii, adults and kids, who are currently uninsured, we are now moving, as a result of this foundation that we've set with the Hawaii benefits package, to see that they have coverage by 2014."
Officials say this announcement won't affect the majority of Hawaii residents because most are insured. They can't say, just yet, how much the plan will cost those currently uninsured, but they expect tax credits, Medicaid expansion, and a health insurance exchange - called the Hawaii Health Connector - will help cut costs.
Exactly one year from today, October 1st, 2013, the Hawaii Health Connector will be open for business and folks can start shopping for their insurance. Their coverage will take effect January 1st, 2014.
For more information, check out the state's website at hawaii.gov/dcca/ins.