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Hawaii’s health insurance exchange enrolls 257 in 1st month

    Eric Alborg, left, Hawaii Health Connector deputy executive director, said 77 applicants have signed up for health coverage from Nov. 9 through today. Above, Alborg and Coral Andrews, center, executive director of the Connector, listened to fellow speakers at a Legislative briefing at the state Capitol last month.

The Hawaii Health Connector enrolled 257 individuals in Obamacare health plans during its first month of operation.

Connector officials for the first time Friday released enrollment figures for the online marketplace created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

From Oct. 1 through Nov. 9, 1,605 applicants were deemed eligible to enroll on the Connector and 180 actually selected medical plans, Connector deputy executive director Eric Alborg said at a board meeting last Friday. But from Nov. 9 through Friday, an additional 77 signed up for health coverage, he said.

In addition, 113 employers have submitted applications on the exchange, though no employees have selected a plan as of yet.

“We wanted to provide the board of directors and public the most up-to-date figures,” he said.

In a report issued Wednesday, Hawaii was one of only three states that did not provide data to the federal government on the number of people who had signed up for private health insurance through the online exchanges designed to match low-income residents with subsidized health coverage.

The Obama Administration reported that more than 106,000 people selected medical plans in October, the first month of open enrollment.

Hawaii was the last state in the nation to go live with health plans on the exchange after failing to launch at the start of open enrollment on Oct. 1. It did not go live until Oct. 15 due to software problems, which continue to plague the online marketplace. 

The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans obtain health coverage next year or face tax penalties. Consumers must enroll in health plans by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins on Jan. 1. 

The president announced Thursday a policy reversal that allows insurers to keep individuals in their existing health plans that were slated to be canceled because they did not meet minimum benefit requirements under the health reform law.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 Hawaii residents with individual plans and 140,000 people covered by small business policies had been notified their medical plans will be canceled or altered on Jan. 1.

State Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said today that he is urging Hawaii health insurance companies to continue offering plans that were slated to be scrapped by the end of the year.

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