State: More than 40,000 Hawaii residents have lost health insurance amid pandemic

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Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 40,000 Hawaii residents have lost their private health insurance coverage amid the pandemic and been forced to go on a government plan.

According to the state Department of Human Services, enrollment in the state Med-Quest or Medicaid program has jumped 13% to a record 376,000 residents ― from 333,000 in September 2019.

Nearly all of them come from households that have suffered job losses and have had their employer health insurance coverage cut off.

“The number of people who are going on Quest, that’s a clear indication of those who have fallen into a category of economic challenge or economic despair even," said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

“I believe 3,000 additional children have been added to Medicaid and that’s often because of their entire family has gone on.”

The DHS said enrollment is up in all counties:

  • Enrollment of Med-Quest recipients on Oahu is up 12.5%;
  • The Big Island has seen a 10.4% jump;
  • And Kauai and Maui have seen enrollment increase by more than 16%.

The state’s Med-Quest is mostly funded by federal dollars and state taxpayers.

“So if more and more people end up on Medicaid, it will have a ripple effect and our healthcare system,” Green said, adding that the increased enrollment in the Quest program underscores the need to reopen tourism and get the economy healthy again. “We have to be totally safe but you can’t condemn tens of thousands of people to a desperate situation," he said.

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