Director: Hawaii health exchange must reduce costs


HONOLULU — The head of Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul says it has to trim costs to remain sustainable.

That’s the message Tom Matsuda, interim executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing Monday.

Matsuda and Gordon Ito, the insurance commissioner with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, both told a Senate committee that insurance buyers can likely save money over their current plans by using the exchange.

But they also acknowledged that the tangle of tax subsidies and premiums the website must account for makes the process daunting to many buyers.

Matsuda says about 5,400 people have completed individual enrollment. That’s only about one-tenth of what the nonprofit Health Connector had hoped to sign up through 2014.