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Even with Marketplace Gains, Health Care Coverage and Costs Remain Challenges for Maine People

Even with Marketplace Gains, Health Care Coverage and Costs Remain Challenges for Maine People

The results of two statewide surveys released by the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) show that despite having more affordable, private insurance options through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, getting health insurance and paying for necessary health care services are persistent challenges for many Maine people.  The reports, Uninsured Adults in Maine, 2013 and 2014 and Maine Residents Report on Health Insurance and Cost of Health Care, describe trends related to insurance coverage, affordability and access to health care.

While the proportion of Maine adults with health insurance coverage held steady, the type of coverage shifted.  Overall, more Maine adults ages 18 - 64 had private health insurance, while lower income people lost public coverage.  Uninsured adults were concentrated in households that earn under $24,999 per year, and that situation worsened. While about 27% of all Maine adults ages 18 – 64 had incomes less than $25,000 in both years, 49% of the uninsured fell into this income group in 2013 and 57% in 2014.

Young adults, people with less education, men, and rural residents were at higher risk of being uninsured.  One of every five people in small or isolated rural communities was uninsured, and nearly one in three with less than a high school diploma did not have health insurance.  Worse yet, most of the individuals who reported that they were not insured had lacked insurance for over a year, with almost 40% reporting having no health insurance for over four years. Over the past two years the number of uninsured Maine people having difficulty paying medical bills increased by about 10%, while that rate declined nationally.

“It is concerning that even with the efforts of many across Maine to enroll individuals into Marketplace health insurance plans established under Obamacare, we haven’t succeeded in moving the needle on lowering the rate of uninsured people in the state,” said MeHAF President and CEO Wendy Wolf.  

MeHAF’s Vice President for Programs, Barbara Leonard noted, “We feel it is critical to monitor what’s happening regarding access to care and insurance coverage, as delaying needed medical services can make health problems more severe.  We want to work on strategies to help more people get the services and care they need to help them stay healthy and productive.”

The first report, Uninsured Adults in Maine, 2013 and 2014, highlights information from the ongoing federal/state public health survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).  MeHAF support allows inclusion of additional questions about access to insurance and health care services in the state’s BRFSS, which surveys a random sample of Maine people throughout the year.  Results from 2013 and 2014 surveys are included in the report.

The second report, Maine Residents Report on Health Insurance and Cost of Health Care, features results from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS), which samples panels of respondents nationally and in Maine to follow trends in insurance coverage as well as access to health care services, unmet health care needs, and difficulty paying medical bills.  MeHAF supports an expanded number of Maine participants in the panel. This point-in-time survey was completed in December 2013 and again in December 2014.

Media Contact:  
Barbara Leonard, Vice President for Programs | Maine Health Access Foundation
(207) 620.8266 x102   | bleonard@mehaf.org

 

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