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HMSA loses $17.4M during initial COVID-19 response

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The Hawaii Medical Service Association lost $17.4 million in the first quarter as the global coronavirus pandemic hit the islands.

The losses reversed $42.7 million in year-earlier profits as the state’s largest health insurer waived the cost share for COVID-19 diagnostic tests and treatments deemed medically necessary.

The state’s largest health insurer collected $884 million in premiums, down from $885.9 million in the year-ago quarter, and spent $780.1 million, compared to $792.5 million, on medical services for its 732,550 members.

Administrative expenses dropped to $70.4 million from $81.1 million, resulting in an operating loss of $6.4 million that reversed gains of $29.9 million. Investment income totaled $4 million, down from $8.6 million, putting HMSA in the red by $17.4 million after taxes.

During the emergency, the health insurer said it allowed early refills of prescription maintenance drugs and expanded tele-health coverage, waiving all co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles. For those with HMSA dental coverage, emergency tele-dentistry visits are covered 100% for participating providers.

“HMSA members, providers, and employer groups can be confident that we’re well prepared to continue supporting them for their health and safety needs,” Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Gina Marting said in a news release. “Our investments are why we now have the ability to cover tele-health and COVID-19 treatments without charging our members a co-payment. And through our Payment Transformation Program, we continue to pay our primary care providers who are using tele-health and other alternative methods of care to keep everyone safe and healthy, even if they can’t visit in person.”

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