Updated: November 28, 2023
The Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association celebrates its 85th anniversary of serving its members and the state of Hawaiʻi.
“For generations, HMSA has been an invaluable community asset for Hawaiʻi,” said HMSA President and CEO Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S. “People here grow up with HMSA. It’s the safety and security of knowing you’re going to be taken care of when you need it most. HMSA is a mainstay in the community and continues to enable healthier lives for the people of Hawaiʻi.”
HMSA was founded in 1938 by social workers to assist those who were unable to afford health care. It started when Margaret Catton, a nurse, proposed to the Territorial Conference of Social Workers the creation of a nonprofit community-based organization through which members could pool their money to leverage prepaid health care coverage. With that, HMSA was born.
“Very few things last more than eight decades,” said Dr. Mugiishi. “The commitment of HMSA employees in making healthier lives in Hawaiʻi possible has been the cornerstone of the organization’s continued success. I appreciate their commitment to dedicating their lives to bring better health to Hawaiʻi.”
On June 1, 1938, HMSA opened its doors with 671 members, mostly teachers and social workers. Today, HMSA covers more than 780,000 people.
Over the past 85 years, HMSA has navigated many changes in the industry, including uncertainty during World War II, and when a catastrophic tsunami hit Hilo on April 1, 1946 — the same day HMSA opened its Hawaii Island office on the Hilo waterfront.
HMSA began contracting with Med-QUEST for Medicare-eligible members in the 1990s. In the 2010s, HMSA implemented the Affordable Care Act and helped employers, members, and providers understand the law’s complex provisions. And most recently, HMSA provided COVID-19-related support to members, employers, providers, and communities, which totaled more than $175 million in financial relief, according to the health plan.
HMSA employs nearly 1,300 individuals, and serves 780,000 members. The network in Hawaiʻi consists of 7,500 physicians, 28 urgent care providers, three health systems, 23 hospitals, 223 pharmacies, and nine provider organizations.