HMSA rates slammed
A state lawmaker spars with an HMSA official over proposed state regulation of premiums
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A key House lawmaker is harshly criticizing the Hawaii Medical Service Association, saying the state's largest health insurer is more interested in its bottom line than helping to solve the islands' growing health care needs.
House Health Chairman Josh Green (D, Keauhou-Honokohau) noted that in the past 10 years, HMSA has generated $13.5 billion in total revenue, while its charitable arm has distributed about $9.3 million in grants.
HMSA's net income during that time period was $207 million, according to figures from the state Insurance Division. A company spokeswoman also noted that HMSA experienced net operating losses of about $176 million over the last 10 years.
Green called the disparity "appalling."
"Being the leader in health care, it's their moral obligation to step up and help solve our health problems," he said. "If their answer is $9.3 million in foundation grants, then I say you can keep it and you can be a for-profit."
Jennifer Diesman, director of government relations for HMSA, called the comparison unfair, noting that the HMSA Foundation pays out health care grants of about $1 million a year from interest earned on an initial endowment of about $20 million.
No foundation money comes from member dues. On the revenue side, 93 cents of every dollar goes toward health care services, Diesman added.
"The overwhelming bulk of the revenue goes to pay for health care services for the community," she said.
The issue is expected to come up today as House lawmakers discuss a bill related to regulating health insurance rates.