The Hawai'i Health Connector announced Monday it is extending its enrollment deadline from Dec. 23 to Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, in line with a federal announcement earlier in the day to accommodate the high demand in last-minute enrollments.
Individuals and families who select a health plan through the Connector and complete the enrollment process by the new deadline will receive coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2014.
The deadline for payment of the first month's premium remains Jan. 10, 2014. The Connector says it will work hard to allow any individual or family who was unable to select a plan due to system delays to enroll in a plan for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.
"Ensuring Hawai'i residents receive the coverage they need is our priority," said Tom Matsuda, interim executive director of the Hawai‘i Health Connector. "We are not yet where we want to be but have made progress, doubling our Customer Service Support Center staff to 50 to assist individuals and families with signing up for a health plan in the remaining days before the deadline. We’re also offering practical tips to make sure consumers can navigate the enrollment process.”
As of Saturday, 1,100 individuals have enrolled in a health plan through the Hawaii Health Connector, but that number is projected to increase, Matsuda added.
"We realize the Connector has experienced various technical challenges, and while we continue to make ongoing upgrades to improve the experiences of our customers we’re also working hard to help explain the enrollment process," Matsuda said.
The Hawaii Health Connector recommends the individuals take the following steps to expedite the make the enrollment process:
1) Individuals and families who filled out a paper or online application for financial assistance may not have heard back yet on the status of their application.
For these cases, the Connector recommends filling out a non-financial assistance application at ConnectHawaii.com. This means forgoing subsidies or tax credits for now. However, if these individuals filled out an application for financial assistance already, they will still be processed for financial assistance or financial assistance. If they have not filled out any application, they would still be able to fill out an application for financial assistance later.
"We will be working closely with the state Department of Human Services to process applications for Medicaid assistance as quickly as possible. If individuals are not qualified for Medicaid, the Connector will process these to determine if they qualify for a low-cost health plan through premium tax credits," Matsuda said.
An individual who makes less than $52,920 is eligible for financial assistance. A family of four whose household income is less than $108,360 can also apply for financial assistance.
2) Small businesses or employees of a small business are advised to continue through the process of selecting plans so they can enroll in coverage. The Connector is continuously processing these applications for coverage.
3) Consumers have until Jan. 10, 2014 to pay their premium for health insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2014. Typically, consumers need to select a plan by the 15th of the month before a policy becomes effective. However, for Jan. 1, 2014 effective coverage that deadline has been extended.
4) Enrollment can also be completed online by visiting the Hawai‘i Health Connector website at hawaiihealthconnector.com or by speaking with a representative in the Hawai‘i Health Connector's Customer Service Support Center. The phone number is (877) 628-5076. The center is open seven days week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
5) In addition to online enrollment and calling Connector's Customer Service Support Center, consumers can also receive in-person support at a market assister organization. Consumers can visit the website to find a marketplace assister organization nearest to them.
6) For questions relating to the new federal law regarding canceled health insurance policies, consumers are encouraged to visit the Hawaii Health Connector website at www.hawaiihealthconnector.com.