Hawaii First with Health Insurance Exchange
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie declared the state is prepared to open a health insurance exchange on January 1, 2014, as required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Hawaii is the first state to make such a formal declaration, though many other states are working on building exchanges. States that fail to build adequate insurance exchanges by the deadline will be compelled to join a federal insurance exchange.
The Hawaii exchange will be known as the Hawaii Health Connector, "a one-stop-shop where individuals and small business can find, compare and purchase the best, most economical health insurance plans available to them," reports Sonia Isotov on MauiNow.com.
The Hawaii Health Connector is a private, non-profit corporation. It's run by executive director Coral Andrews, a retired U.S. Navy captain and nurse, and past vice president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. In words that echo the mission of the Health Care Compact -- to allow states to manage their own health care policy -- Andrews said:
We're very focused on establishing the exchange as state-based, ensuring that the connector is of Hawaii and for Hawaii.
Hawaii intends to proceed with the Hawaii Health Connector whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the ACA. That decision is expected within the next two weeks.
Source: "Hawaii First to Declare Health Insurance Exchange," MauiNow.com, June 14, 2012
Source: "Governor to Establish Health Care Exchange in Hawaii," BigIslandNow.com, June 14, 2012.
Image courtesy of Michael Allen Smith used under its Creative Commons license.
Steve O'Keefe is a freelance writer, author and book editor.