What They’re Watching: Joy Barua

Joy Barua, senior director of government and community relations at Kaiser Permanente, joins us in this edition of What They’re Watching to discuss the challenges Hawaii’s geographical location brings to providing healthcare.

You know, Hawaii is a very unique place, we have our geography that’s isolated. We are a state of many islands, so, really, from a healthcare standpoint, as well, when you’re looking at healthcare, if you consider the continuum, and, you know, there’s our care delivery, there’s the help line side, but then there’s the also the community side, looking at Safety Net and so forth. And, you know, our environment is very atypical and, therefore, the solutions we need to devise.

You know, we are blessed to have the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act for decades, which has been sort of our answer before the Affordable Care Act in terms of addressing the… you know, providing care for uninsured and underinsured and so forth, which is why we have one of the lowest uninsured in the nation. You know, the cost of healthcare is definitely a concern here for a variety of reasons. Because we are isolated, care delivery is we’re talking about different, you know, if a hospital is not within easy access, then we have to look at, how does transportation function as a cost determinant, even a health determinant? And so, we are looking at those issues, areas, cost-contributing factors more closely and asking, you know, what might it look like as we are looking at solving for them as part of the affordability conversation moving forward?