More than 405,000 Hawaii residents now on Medicaid after record-setting job losses


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Hawaii’s Medicaid enrollment has surged 24% during the pandemic.


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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – The number of Hawaii residents on Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for low-income adults and children, has soared by 24% amid the pandemic as the state saw record-setting job losses.

Ahead of the pandemic, there were 327,199 Hawaii residents on the state’s Medicaid program, Med-Quest. Last week, there were 405,598, a dramatic increase that demonstrates the impact COVID shutdowns and job losses had on workers and their families who lost health insurance, too.

Every county saw a jump in Medicaid recipients.

Honolulu had the most new applications. But percentage wise, Maui saw the biggest increase of 50%.


Increase in Medicaid enrollment since pandemic (Source: None)

Even as the economy has reopened, the numbers continue to climb.

“None of us could have predicted this at the beginning of the pandemic, but the longer it’s gone on and the more we’ve seen families continue to struggle, it’s not unexpected,” said Judy Mohr Peterson, administrator of the State’s Med-Quest Program.

Medicaid is funded using both federal and state dollars. The federal government has increased contributions to keep up and the state is looking to add money to the program, too.


Increase in Medicaid enrollment since pandemic (Source: None)

“We’re in frequent conversations with the legislature and the Governor’s office on the budget situation and ways that we will be able to address the increased needs in the long run,” Peterson said.

To chip away at the budget challenge, a bill that would impose new fees on for-profit health insurance companies is moving through the state Legislature.

But the shortfall could continue if the numbers don’t start to go down soon.


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