Micronesians in Hawaii to be switched to Affordable Care Act

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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Pacific Islanders, including about 7,500 Micronesians, will automatically be enrolled in insurance mandated by the federal health care law on March 1 after losing their Medicaid coverage Feb. 28.

The 7,500 Micronesians are among the more able-bodied among nearly 14,000 citizens of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia who are living in Hawaii, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://is.gd/1CY1uH) reported.

Medicaid or Medicare coverage still will be retained by people who are blind, pregnant, disabled or 65 years old or older. The others will be switched over to the health care law's "Silver Plan," which requires a co-payment for coverage similar to Medicaid.

The goal is to see that nobody who needs insurance will have any gaps in coverage, said Jeff Kissel, director of the Hawaii Health Connector, Hawaii's official marketplace for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Officials also want to find people who are not covered by any insurance and sign them up as new clients by Feb. 15, Kissel said.

Kissel said he is sympathetic to migrants who are not used to dealing with institutions.

Yumina Defang, who moved from Micronesia with her family in 2008, was at a Health Connector workshop last week. Defang said she heard people were being cut off from medical insurance, and was worried about it.

"I have five boys," she said. "I cannot afford to pay for them. It's hard."


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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