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Some health plans wait to implement new law

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Question: Under the health reform plan, we were told children would be covered by our family insurance plan until the age of 26. My husband recently retired from the county. HMSA told us that they don’t have to comply with that until September 2011, not this September. That would mean my daughter, who will be 22, will have no medical coverage for one year, if she goes to school only part time. Can you find out why HMSA doesn’t have to comply with the law?

Answer: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does have a provision allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26.

But providing coverage for older children does not necessarily have to begin in September, according to Cliff Cisco, senior vice president for the Hawaii Medical Service Association.

Cisco pointed to regulations regarding the "applicability date" of the provision, which state: "These interim final regulations generally apply to group health plans and group health insurance issuers for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010."

But many large insurers began offering that coverage in June.

HMSA put the "up to age 26" benefit into effect for most employer groups on June 1, Cisco said.

However, "many large and a few small employers elected to put the benefit into effect, as permitted under the law, at the time of their next contract renewal after September 23, 2010," he said.

Since your husband is a recent retiree from the county, your family’s coverage probably is provided by the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, Cisco said.

The trust fund’s next contract renewal with HMSA is July 1, 2011. The fund will put the "up to age 26" benefit into effect at the start of its next contract year next July, Cisco said.

He suggests calling the trust fund for more details on its plan.

Question: I bought a new Energy Star dishwasher recently. Is the "Cash for Appliances" program still on?

Answer: The federally funded $250 rebate program to encourage people to turn in their old appliances for energy-efficient ones ended in May, after only three days.

However, you wouldn’t have qualified anyway. In Hawaii, the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program was available for Energy Star refrigerators only.

Hawaii was allotted $1.2 million for the appliance equivalent of the "Cash for Clunkers" automobile economic stimulus program.

With that relatively small funding, Hawaii officials felt consumers would benefit most from getting rid of old refrigerators. The U.S. Department of Energy allowed each state to set its own parameters for the program.

The program in Hawaii began on May 24, but closed May 26 when all the money was claimed. More than 4,300 residents applied for the rebates during that three-day period, with almost 4,000 Energy Star refrigerators sold on the first day, according to the Department of Energy.

Question: My company has been trying to figure out who to contact to update our information in the Hawaiian Telcom directories. I called the general numbers but never received a reply. Can you help?

Answer: For changes or updates related to the Hawaiian Telcom White Pages directory, call Hawaiian Telcom at 643-4411 (business) or 643-3456 (residential).

For inquiries regarding a paid advertisement in Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages, call Berry in customer service at (866) 813-0745 (toll-free) or 591-7500 on Oahu.

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail


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