I know you know this, but let’s discuss it anyhow–health care is not affordable, and in many cases, it sucks!
Here in Hawaii, we have five major medical insurance carriers to choose from: HMSA, HMAA, UHA, Kaiser, and United HealthCare. Let me share a little about each to save you some time in your selection on who to go with.
- HMSA (Hawaii Medical Service Association), an “independent licensee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association”, according to HMSA’s website, began in the 1930s, later joining Blue Shield in the 40s. These guys are the giants with over 692,000 members. They have a myriad of plans including both HMOs and PPOs. Price wise, they are generally the highest priced – $$$$.
- HMAA (Hawaii Medical Assurance Association), was formed in 1989, by Arnold Baptiste, Sr., a native of my home, Kauai (way to go Arnold!). Arnold was an advocate for small businesses and wanted to provide an alternative medical insurance program for small businesses. HMAA offers 4 PPO plans for the small business (1 to 50 employees) and 4 PPO plans for larger businesses (51+ employees). Price wise, these guys are more competitive – $$$ to $$$$, depending on your choice of plan.
- UHA (University Health Alliance), founded in 1996 by a group of physician teachers from the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. UHA provides two PPO plans to choose from with dental, vision, prescription riders as add-ons. Price wise, they are also competitive – $$$ to $$$$.
- Kaiser Permanente, is an HMO provider. Many non-Oahu residents are hesitant to become members of Kaiser, not only because of the “limitations” behind an HMO plan, but also because of its history of lack of, or limitation of services on the outer islands. I think Kaiser has done a lot to change this by building clinics on the outer islands and using state of the art equipment to bridge the gap between Oahu services and the outer islands. If specialty services are needed and not available on the outer islands, Kaiser will pay for the transportation of flying a patient to Oahu for those needed specialty services. Yay, a free trip to Oahu, maybe some shopping on the side! Price wise, Kaiser will almost always be your best price – $$ to $$$.
- United HealthCare Insurance Co., is a PPO provider. Unfortunately, there’s not much to say about these guys, except for the fact that we have made three attempts to contact them on separate occasions, leaving messages each time, and receiving no follow-up calls by the company.
If cash is tight for your small business, I would start with Kaiser. If services and options really are important, then get quotes from both HMAA and UHA. If price is not a factor, and service options is what really matters most, then check out HMSA.
No matter how you slice it, group medical insurance is a chunk of change that is really hard to swallow. If you’re just tired, confused and losing sleep at night about who to go with, what to look for, pricing, etc., etc., etc., contact us to regain your peace of mind!