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State loses $176,254 on mailing blunders

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 7:01 p.m. HST, May 14, 2013

Two erroneous mailings to 250,000 Quest health insurance members will cost state taxpayers $176,254.

The Department of Human Services Med-Quest Division, which manages the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income residents in Hawaii, said it will spend another $117,170 to re-send a third mailing to Quest members regarding the choices they have for insurance carriers.

The additional expense is due to problems with this year’s Quest open enrollment, the annual period when members are allowed to change health plans. The department said Monday it canceled the open enrollment that began May 1 and was to have ended May 22.

The department sent information to 250,000 Quest members before the start of open enrollment. The problem with the first mailing was it left out Kaiser Permanente as a health plan choice on Oahu and Maui, so a second mailing was sent Wednesday.

The initial mailing cost $117,170, while a second correspondence to include Kaiser as an option cost $59,084, the department said Tuesday. 

The department then canceled the open enrollment for May altogether and rescheduled it for June 17 to 28. The agency will send out a third mailing before June 17.

The department said the open enrollment was canceled because marketing by certain undisclosed health plans was not in compliance with state contracts. In addition, a payment dispute between the Hawaii Medical Service Association and the Wai­anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center was causing confusion.

Quest members who had already selected a new insurer will have to go through the process again.

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