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HMSA, Kaiser to raise premiums

The largest health insurers in Hawaii will boost rates for supplementary coverage

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 01:34 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2012

Hawaii’s two largest health insurers will increase premiums for seniors with Medicare insurance coverage on Jan. 1.

Premiums for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.’s dominant Medicare Advantage plans will rise to $143 a month from $129 a month for about 25,000 members on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island. The benefit packages remain largely unchanged.

Hawaii Medical Service Association is raising rates for its Akamai Advantage plans, which cover 28,100 Medicare members. Monthly premiums for HMSA’s Akamai Advantage Select Plus will rise to $34 from $30; to $65 from $54 for its Akamai Advantage Preferred plan; and to $21 from $7 for its Akamai Advantage Assured option. The company’s two zero-premium plans remain unchanged.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that primarily covers people 65 years and older, as well as some younger people with disabilities and those with end-stage renal disease.

The premium changes come as Medicare allows beneficiaries to switch coverage and carriers during open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

“When you’re living on the margin, even what may look like a relatively small increase, like around $10, still matters,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP state director. “A lot of seniors are on fixed incomes, and their medications are expensive. That’s why they need to make sure that they’re choosing wisely in this open enrollment period and looking for plans to really match what their medical needs are.”

Medicare monthly premium increases:


>> Akamai Advantage Select Plus: $34 from $30; 5,000 members on Oahu only

>> Akamai Advantage Preferred: $65 from $54; 22,000 members statewide

>> Akamai Advantage Assured: $21 from $7; 1,100 members statewide


>> Medicare Advantage: $143 from $129; 25,000 members on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island

Source: Hawaii Medical Service Association; Kaiser Permanente Hawaii

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Tuesday that Kaiser had withdrawn two Medicare plans for Hawaii island beneficiaries as of Jan. 1. But the HMO said it has informed members that it is simply replacing the plans with similar programs under different names. Kaiser’s 1,525 Hawaii island beneficiaries will have to re-enroll in the new plans.

Kaiser spokeswoman Laura Lott said rising costs caused the increases, which are not related to the recent layoff of 35 employees as part of a company reorganization.

“This is a long-term business strategy. We have to remain competitive in the marketplace, and health care costs do continue to increase,” Lott said. “We hope the change will be seamless and that there will be no interruption in service. This is really to cover costs and keep the lights on.”

Meanwhile, Kentucky-based health insurer Humana Inc. has withdrawn a $49-a-month Medicare plan on Oahu and Kauai for roughly 1,900 members, the federal Medicare agency said.

Humana is replacing the plan with a $32-a-month reduced-benefit option on Kauai, and has several remaining plan options for members to choose from on Oahu as it consolidates its product line, said sales director Nicholas Peterson.

Seniors losing their Medicare Advantage plans also have the option of switching to original Medicare, a fee-for-service health plan that allows members to go to any doctor, hospital or other provider that accepts the federal health insurance program, agency said.

Medicare Advantage, operated by private insurers contracted by Medicare, covers the same benefits and services as original Medicare but often includes prescription drug coverage and benefits such as vision and dental care at an extra price.

Medicare Advantage members must generally stay within the plan’s provider network or pay higher out-of-pocket costs.


Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some home care.

Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services.

A type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations, private fee-for-service plans, special-needs plans and Medicare medical savings account plans. Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren’t paid for under original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.

Adds prescription drug coverage to original Medicare, some Medicare cost plans, some Medicare private fee-for-service plans and Medicare medical savings account plans.



>> For free face-to-face counseling for Medicare beneficiaries, contact the state Department of Health Executive Office on Aging’s Hawaii State Health Insurance Assistance Program, a Medicare-counseling program, at 586-7299 or 888-875-8229.

 >>?See which Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans are available in Hawaii via the Medicare Plan Finder at www.Medicare.gov/find-a-plan; or, call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

Source: Medicare.gov

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Kawipoo wrote:
Wait till Obamacare comes into its full glory!
on October 31,2012 | 04:15AM
HD36 wrote:
Anything the government gets its greedy hands on ends up costing us more.
on November 1,2012 | 12:29AM
peanutgallery wrote:
This is extortion at it's best. Obama has caused insurance rates to skyrocket. Time to get rid of Obama and medical insurance. They're both cons.
on October 31,2012 | 04:37AM
kahuku01 wrote:
peanutgallery: Kaiser and HMSA are raising their premium rates and you've mentioned that Obama has caused insurance to skyrocket. I'm confused and would like you to explain why Obama has caused insurance rates to skyrocket so that I may have a better understanding of how the medical insurance works.
on October 31,2012 | 05:28AM
peanutgallery wrote:
There are only 9000 people in the entire state that actually pay the full cost of their own health insurance. The rest are subsidized by their employers, as mandated by law. This has allowed for a financial field day for insurance providers who fear losing their golden goose as Obama care looms on the horizon. The biggest con of our lifetimes is medical insurance. Whether it's supplied by a few providers or the government. When the government controls the purse strings of health care, they effectively control your life. When government controls the purse strings of health care, it shuts-out the insurance providers. They have raised their rates at an astronomic level since Obama care. I know. I'm one of the 9000. Unless you are, you have no idea how much medical insurance actually costs. Hope that explains it for you.
on October 31,2012 | 06:52AM
frontman wrote:
obamacare............Hope and Change...Don't you love it...
on October 31,2012 | 05:02AM
localcitizen wrote:
costs do go up-= but in medical- if you look at the rates the insurance companies- and Medicare are paying hospitals and doctors- well, those are and have been steadily going down - This is why you hear of hospitals having trouble staying afloat Like St. Francis - IF you dont have a big endowment, like Queens, then you are realy struggling Insuarance rates have skyrocketed under the Obamacare plan and rates paid to providors of healthcare have dropped (ask your own physician) so- how do you think Obamacare is working now?- It has to be about getting dollars to entites that provide healrthcare and not in beauocracy and insuance - those arent helping you -
on October 31,2012 | 12:16PM
frontman wrote:
And with obama stealing $785 BILLION from medicare, hospitals will be getting even less, unless America changes course November 6th.
on October 31,2012 | 01:01PM
Dragonman wrote:
It doesn't matter who is president, cost continue to rise. Are you saying that there is no inflation if we had a Republican president. Think before you post and post something meaningful.
on October 31,2012 | 06:18AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Health insurance is a con. If you pay for your own health insurance, which you probably don't, since there are only 9000 people in the entire state who do, you would understand how egregious health insurance rates are. A conservative President who wanted to do something about rates could do one of two things: make health insurance illegal. This would cause health care costs to plummet and would effectively solve the health care cost problem, or allow health insurance companies to compete across state lines
on October 31,2012 | 06:56AM
boshio wrote:
Correct. Have anyone's health insurance cost stayed the same or went down from year to year? At least Obama is trying to help the huge rise in yearly cost, even with the republican's party's resistance. Ask your self, why is this? So give Obama your support by doing more research in this issue.
on October 31,2012 | 07:39AM
pcman wrote:
Health care went up about 7-8% a year under Bush. That was high but when Obamacare was negotiated and passed healthcare went up 15-18% a year because the insurance companies and providers anticipated higher cost for those who pay so that the 12 million that who didn't pay can get free or cheap care. Additionally, when the Obamacare was passed, healthcare providers (doctors and hospitals) were told they would get less for their services. So to cover the lower payments per visit, doctors and hospitals have you seen more often for shorter time periods. I just had a 15 minute eye surgery. I was told informally, previously you saw the doctor once before and once after surgery and a second time after surgery if there were problems. But this time I had 2 presurgery checks, and I'll have 3 post surgery checks. Additionally, now it is harder to find doctors who will take new patients under Medicare. Madicade is wide open. In actuality, i tis better to be under Medicade (free care) than Medicare.($125 a month).
on October 31,2012 | 02:53PM
mustangguru wrote:
Hey friends, Obama said that insurance would become more affordable once Obamacare kicks in. Is there some miracle that we all fail to see on the horizon?
on October 31,2012 | 06:53AM
hawaiikone wrote:
The horizon has been relatively clear for awhile now. It includes further escalation of insurance rates, as well as significantly rising medicare costs, higher prescription cost, fewer doctors accepting elderly patients, flat denial for pricier medical procedures, and the list goes on and on. Obviously something has to be done to modify how we do medicine in this nation, but equally obvious is the fact that obamacare is not it.
on October 31,2012 | 07:32AM
pcman wrote:
In the 2008 election Obama said medical costs will go down $2500 per person on the average. Actually it has gone up $2500 a year. So much for the truth in campaigning by Obama. Now the only way to cut healthcare costs is to repeal Obamacare and keep some of the most beneficial care, but individual premiums should reflect individual needs. Tort reform should also be changed to eliminate any liability on doctors with legitimate degrees and certification.
on October 31,2012 | 03:02PM
soundofreason wrote:
Imagine my surprise.
on October 31,2012 | 07:42AM
false wrote:
it's discouraging that there are so many people who are uninformed about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). But with so much misinformation spewed by right wing radio, TV, and Republican candidates I guess it shouldn't be surprising. To anyone who truly cares, I suggest you do some research on the Affordable Care Act, although it won't be easy to get at the truth. The Internet is also filled with misinformation about this program and most of the people in this forum certainly know how to regurgitate it. And by the way, HMSA and Kaiser's rates have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Their rates have been rising steadily for years, long before Obama took office. It's convenient, though, isn't it, to have him to blame for everything?
on October 31,2012 | 08:18AM
localcitizen wrote:
You dont understand that Act - It has raised insurance rates faster, due to the extra costs it imposes on providors of healthcare. It isnt a cost savings - it has taken medicaid and placed it at the same level as HMSA - it has taken what were once Hospital costs- and spread them out to the rest of us that is a big part of why insurance rates are going up- and up- there is not a Plan- just a re-allocation of costs to everyone- and insurance companies are happy to raise rates because they make more money on their percentage.... You need to read it and talk to people htat actually provide care- ask them if the Act has in any way, lowered thier costs to provide you care- that is the key- it isnt any right wing or political party conspiracy- it is an attempt to make you and al of us pay all costs- which is why rates go up- and hospitals and insurance company stocks- are all rising - who is winning here?- not us!
on October 31,2012 | 12:23PM
jayz43 wrote:
The misinformation about Obamacare is straight from Obama and the Dem leaders themselves. Obama himself is responsible for MOST of the misinformation with "keep your doctor, keep your plan, save $2,500 per family, ad nauseum. There are so many people now stuck with higher rates, higher deductibles, no doctor, etc. The ones uninformed and refusing to face the facts are the lapdog liberals who REFUSE to accept the facts, like Dem leader Harry Reid who denies every complaint about Obamacare with, "Lies, lies, all lies".
on April 3,2014 | 04:47PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You all realize the CEO of HMSA makes over $1 million each year in salary, don't you? It's good to be part of the 1%. And then they outsource their jobs - lunch time by the HMSA building on Koreamoku Street looks like Little Bombay (excuse me, Mumbai, must be politically correct) with all the imported workers. Send out the Hawaii jobs, raise the Hawaii prices, pay the exorbitant salaries, dribe employers to 19 hour jobs....great health "care" system we got.....
on October 31,2012 | 08:48AM
linedancer wrote:
If Obamacare kicks in, to all you taxpayers out there, be ready to dish out your pay checks to pay for health care to the lazy people who refuse to join the workforce and make a living for themselves. All they want are free handouts while we, the ones who works one, two, or even three jobs just to make ends meet. SHAME on these young lazy idiots.....all they do is eat, drink beer, and bring more kids into this world (poor children).
on October 31,2012 | 09:58AM
donthigpen wrote:
This increase is the tip of the iceberg. More increases to come as Obamacare takes over. It's sad that people continue to insist that His Majesty (BHO) knows best. How many of you who have drunk too much of the kool-aid have actually read the bill? We know the Democratic Senators didn't prior to passage. As Nancy Pelosi said, "We have to pass this bill to know what it says."
on October 31,2012 | 10:46AM
jayz43 wrote:
I agree, Obama in the Rose Garden with hand-picked cheerleaders crowing about the 7.1 "signups". Like an onion, when you peel away the layers of the 7.1 million "sing-ups" and verify those who have actually PAID, then subtract the medicaiders who weWE pay for, then those subsidized who WE pay for, then those FORCED into Obamacare because of cancellations (6.1mil) of their previous policies, will you be left with over or under a million PAID signups who didn't have insurance before Obamacare? And I haven't even touched on the critical young age group sign-ups so critical to the success of Obamacare. I bet on the under.
on April 3,2014 | 06:17PM
Papakolea wrote:
The root problem is that most of us eat too much and don't exercise enough, which increases our need for health care. More effort needs to be placed on prevention so we don't need to treat preventable ailments.
on October 31,2012 | 11:22AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Smart comment! It's true - billions could be saved if obesity were not so common. I'd like to see more fairness in health insurance premiums that charge the obese, smokers, heavy drinkers, etc., a lot more for their premiums and less for folks with healthy lifestyles.
on October 31,2012 | 04:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
Agreed. There should be mandatory physical assessments that tie into your premiums. If you can do a 5 minute mile, you get the lowest rate possible, for example.
on October 31,2012 | 05:43PM
fairgame947 wrote:
I wonder why my brother in So. Cal has no cost for his Sr. program with Kaiser and for exactly the same plan, I pay $129/mo. . Does not make any sense!
on October 31,2012 | 11:39AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I can see it now, HMSA and Kaiser registers record revenues.
on October 31,2012 | 11:45AM
LanaUlulani wrote:

ObamaCare ObamaTax is making things WORSE not better for healthcare. Now that the U.S. government is involved with our healthcare they are now in control of OUR BODY. In addition the price and COST of healthcare is going UP UP UP AND AWAY.


on October 31,2012 | 07:24PM
localguy wrote:
Many of us still remember some time ago when HMOs promised everyone better health care at lower prices. They were going to show the world how health care was done. Yeah, right. Flash forward to today and their bloated bureaucracy wastes sooo much money of clueless CEOs and their bennies. What liars they are. Where is their concern for rate payers. This is what they do, rip all of us off.
on November 1,2012 | 12:24AM
hokuahi wrote:
What's scary is that my new Akamai Advantage Group Plan rates for 2014 just arrived. Quite a few flat fee services have increased, some a lot. But what is even more discouraging is that now, HMSA is changing their fee plan to a PERCENTAGE of a service. For example, instead of say a $30 copay for a visit, it is now 30% OF THE COST OF EACH VISIT.
on October 3,2013 | 01:47PM
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