Business

Kaiser to Raise Senior Health Plan Premiums

October 14, 2016, 2:47 PM HST
* Updated October 14, 2:50 PM
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kaiser-medicareEffective Jan. 1, 2017, Kaiser Permanente  will offer only one plan to Medicare-eligible Hawai‘i Island residents— the Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Hawaii Island (HMO) plan.

Kaiser will discontinue its “Essential” and “Essential Plus” individual Medicare plans on Hawai‘i Island after Dec. 31, 2016.

Currently, there are 3,900 individual Senior Advantage members on Hawai‘i Island. The “Essential” 2016 premiums is $63 per month; the “Essential Plus” premium was $202 per month. The “Essential” premium is $2,305 per year; the “Essential Plus” is 1,640 per year.

The new Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Hawaii Island (HMO) premium rate that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, is $194 per month.

Kaiser representatives say this new plan is competitively priced with others in the marketplace.

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“We know that these changes may be difficult for some seniors so there are financial assistance programs available,” said Laura Lott, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s communications director. “Given the rising cost of medical care and drugs and current Medicare reimbursement rates, these changes are necessary. We want to be here to care for all our members for many years to come. To do that, we have to be financially stable.

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“Closing the Maui and Big Island plans was a difficult decision and we did this only after reviewing all the options available to us at this time,” said  Lott. “The changes we are making this year will allow us to deliver high-quality healthcare for all our members over the long term.”

Kaiser’s Medicare premiums and copays are determined by its cost of providing medical care, prescription drugs, and other services; how much Medicare reimburses plans; and benefits that Medicare requires that are offered to members.

The federal government reimburses Kaiser Permanente for each service area at a different rate. In Hawai‘i, those rates also vary by island. Hawaii Island and Maui have significantly lower reimbursement rates than anywhere else in the country making it challenging to cover the rising cost of medical care and prescription drugs.

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“Hawaiʻi Island and Maui have significantly lower reimbursement rates than anywhere else in the country, making it challenging to cover the rising cost of medical care and prescription drugs,” Lott said.

Kaiser representatives said all health plans face the same healthcare financial pressures with some plans raising premiums and reducing benefits, while others previously decided to leave the Medicare market entirely.

“We are committed to continuing to serve Medicare members,” said Lott. “Our Medicare premiums and copays are determined by our cost of providing medical care, prescription drugs, and other services; how much Medicare reimburses plans; and benefits that Medicare requires that we offer our members.”

Kaiser will be holding informational meetings on the new plan.

Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Mokuola Room 71 Banyan Dr.

Oct. 17: 9 a.m.,  noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m.

Oct., 18: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m.

Royal Kona Resort, Discovery Room – Ali‘i Tower 75-5852 Ali‘i Dr. Kailua-Kona,

Oct. 19: 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m.

Oct. 21: 9 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m.

Anna Ranch Heritage Center, 65-1480 Kawaihae Rd. Kamuela, HI 96743

Oct. 20: 10 a.m., 1 p.m.

Free onsite parking is available.

Seating is limited. RSVP at 1-855-226-1024, seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Information and applications are available online or by calling (800) 805-2739.

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