Health Insurance for Hawaii’s Self-Employed

My eyes almost fell out of my head when I read a June 27, 2008 article in Pacific Business News with the headline: For Solo Operators, Insurance Deals Grow.

It was about medical insurance — which, of course, is tricky business when you are self-employed.

From the Pacific Business News article by Linda Chiem: 

Hawaii’s major health insurers, pushed by health-care advocates and solo business owners, are expected to launch a pilot program that would give sole proprietors and the self-employed the chance to buy health insurance coverage at a group rate traditionally offered to small businesses and employers.

The effort was made possible by a new law, which takes effect July 1, that is seen by its supporters as a first step in reaching Hawaii residents who are working but cannot afford insurance.

Hawaii is the only state that requires employers to offer health insurance to all full-time employees.

But sole proprietors straddle the line between employer and employee, which leaves them with limited options when it comes to buying health insurance at an affordable rate.

This is absolutely amazing news to me, yet other than the Pacific Business News article I’ve heard nothing about it. It’s shockingly progressive! Humane! Business-friendly!

Some self-employed people, of course, take on a second job primarily for the health insurance benefits. Others have a more “traditionally-employed” spouse who has health insurance at his/her job. 

The rest of us struggle to find medical insurance at all if we have just about any pre-existing health condition. And if we do find coverage, the amount we pay would make your socks crinkle and fall right off. 

Or we just go without medical insurance. Not me; I’ve held a six-figure hospital bill in my hand before (it wasn’t mine). But some people — who, I guess, haven’t — just take their chances.

I’ll look into this some more; maybe I can wheedle down the stunning amount of money we pay for health insurance each month. I’ll let you know what I learn.

Or if anybody out there has more information on this, please leave a comment.

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Hilo Travel Guide, That’s Me!

My mom, who lives in California, is spending a month up at Volcano, housesitting for a friend. She is loving the cool, crisp weather and the absolutely beautiful rainforest location.

a peacock in Volcano
We saw a peacock in the road when we drove up to Volcano the other day!

This week she has a friend visiting her and they are having fun touring the Big Island.

And because my mom has never lived here (it’s my father’s family that’s from here), she’s been calling me and asking for ideas. I am enjoying thinking about fun things for them to do.

Last night the question was, “Where should we go to eat some good seafood?” 

I suggested the Seaside Restaurant in Hilo’s Keaukaha area. The casual, easygoing restaurant has enormous fishponds and raises its own fish. Before or after you eat (or during if you have a young one who gets a little too restless; I speak from experience) you can wander their boardwalks and look at the fish in the beautiful big ponds.

The best time to arrive is at dusk. Ask to sit “outside,” which, it finally occurred to me once, is actually inside. It’s sort of an enclosed patio, I think. Perhaps it was once outside. Anyway, they’ll know what you mean and seat you by the windows where you can see out.

There is a tree growing in the middle of the vast fishponds, and at dusk a rather enormous number of white egrets land on it. They flutter around the tree, looking for fish. It’s quite a sight to see all that shocking white out there on an unlikely tree in the middle of the water. 

And the fish is very good. I usually order something furikake-encrusted.

When I suggested the Seaside and told my mom how to get there, after having dispensed some other touring ideas in the last couple days, she joked, “You should be a travel guide!” And I thought about how much fun it is to share all the great places we enjoy visiting here on the Big Island. 

In the last couple days they’ve gone up to Waimea and toured the historic homes there at Parker Ranch, brought us malasadas from Tex Drive In in Honoka‘a, and checked out beautiful Akaka Falls, inspiration for the beautiful song of the same name. Here is someone named Rachel singing that classic song. I just pulled the video off YouTube on a whim — but what an incredible voice! Rachel, you’re amazing!

Coming soon on our Hawai‘i travel agenda: throwing the prawn traps into our stream, to be followed by a delicious, and very fresh, prawn dinner.

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Let Me Introduce Myself

Here in Hawai’i, we introduce ourselves when we meet by telling who our family is and where we’re from; we put ourselves into a context, and try to establish some sort of a connection to each other. It’s traditional among Hawaiians. So let me tell you who I am.

My name is Leslie Lang and I am a freelance writer living near Hilo, Hawai’i. That’s on what we call the Big Island of Hawai’i, on the east (windward; rainier; lush) side of the island.

My father’s family is from this island. Some go back to the beginning, when Polynesians first landed on this island and eventually evolved into Hawaiians, and others were English and Chinese.

My mother’s English/Irish family is from West Virginia, deep in the most beautiful hills where the trees turn brilliant reds and oranges and yellows in the fall, and where they make really good cornbread in a skillet in the oven. I do that too.

It’s a pretty diverse genealogical background, huh? I love it all.

My family lives in my grandmother’s wonderful old rambly home in the country. It’s a good life.

I have a lot of stories to tell and some other things to say, and I am a writer, and so, voila! A blog.

I’ll post here about:

  • Freelance writing (Who, what, where, how and probably even why)
  • Being self-employed (Coming soon: Is it riskier, in this or any economy, than working full-time for one employer? Or much, much safer?)
  • Living in Hawai’i (It’s a pretty great place to live)
  • Historic Hilo town (I wrote a book recently about beautiful Hilo and its history)
  • and, I’m sure, how all these subjects intersect in my life

Whether you are looking for a writer, are yourself self-employed as a writer (or want to be) and are interested in how others do it, or are interested in Hilo or Hawai‘i in general, I hope you’ll check back! Or even subscribe to my feed. I’ll try to keep it interesting. And please, always feel free to continue the conversation by leaving a comment.

You can also always contact me at leslie@leslielang.com.

Aloha,

Leslie

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