|By Kristen Consillio, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Quest, the state's version of
The first forms were mailed in March to roughly 33,000 Quest members, but about one-third of those did not respond and their coverage was canceled in April. The state will continue mailing forms to about 33,000 members each month until all 200,000 have received forms. Based on the return rate in March, about 69,600 people could lose coverage this year.
Community health providers who care for the bulk of the
"If people don't hear about it, they're not going to know until it's too late," said
Some Quest members have found out their coverage was terminated at their doctor's office, Derauf said. Some of those said they did not receive the forms, and some were disenrolled from the program even though they completed and sent in the forms, he said.
"It doesn't serve anyone's purpose that I can see to have people fall off
The state spends on average about
"In addition, beneficiaries are being sent three separate notices reminding them to respond," said DHS spokeswoman
But providers say those efforts may not be enough because many Quest recipients are either homeless or hidden homeless who use the address of social service agencies or friends and don't pick up their mail regularly.
"The entire system seems to be contingent on people receiving these forms," Derauf said. "The reality is that there are many cases where they probably haven't had a chance to update recipient addresses. It's built on a system that wasn't particularly accurate."
The mailing of renewal notices in
Quest members previously were "passively renewed," or automatically re-enrolled in the program even if they didn't return renewal forms each year. That left the possibility that the state was paying for health insurance for people who no longer lived in
The state will require renewal forms be sent in only this year and then will return to passive renewals.
Meanwhile the DHS termination notices are directing people to the Hawaii Health Connector, the online health insurance exchange created by the ACA.
After reviewing the situation, Connector officials said the exchange will allow individuals and families who lose their coverage because they no longer qualify for
"It's not going to help," Derauf said. "The group we're talking about are people who can't afford even the lowest price on the Connector. At the end of the day, it's much harder to take care of people without insurance. Despite our best efforts we can't provide the quality of care people deserve for (those) who don't have insurance."
"People may choose not to come in if they have to pay out of pocket," she said. "If they have to delay things, it could actually be more expensive in the end because they may have to go to the emergency room or be admitted to the hospital. It puts unnecessary stress on people, especially homeless folks that are already experiencing so many challenges. It's going to hit these patients quite hard."
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