HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HMSA is seeking to raise its insurance premiums by 49.1% for new members enrolled under the Obamacare mandate. The increase impacts about 21,000 HMSA customers who do not get their insurance through their employers.
It's the largest rate increase it has ever asked for, and larger than many other insurers across the country are asking for the same group of customers, according to national media reports on other states.
Under the Affordable Care Act, HMSA cannot refuse coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. The company says many of the new customers who joined under Obamacare have existing health needs. They also include a large number of migrants from the Compact of Free Association states. The company says these new members are using more medical services.
The state insurance commissioner put out a press release about the unusually large request saying, "the Insurance Division will actively seek reductions to the proposed request, where possible, to ensure fairness to all parties involved."
In a letter to members, HMSA said it understands their frustration, but defended the increase as being necessary and in line with other states, although an article it provided to back up that claim only identified one state, New Mexico, as having a higher rate increase request. Most others were in the range of 25-35%.
Hawaii's prepaid health care system requires employers to provide coverage to their full-time employees. HMSA says that means the pool of new members who came in through Obamacare is relatively small, about three percent of its total membership.