Research Shows Inequality in Access to Health Care

Research Shows Inequality in Access to Health Care

Report finds Mainers across income groups face challenges in paying medical costs; education level, race and ethnicity closely associated with Maine people’s ability to receive appropriate health care.

Maine Health Access Foundation today released a new data brief developed with the University of Southern Maine that found ongoing inequality in the ability of people in Maine to get quality health care. The report examined data from 2014-2016 and discovered that Maine people, of all income groups, report difficulties in paying medical costs. Research has also found the ability to seek timely and appropriate health care is impacted by income levels, educational background, race, and ethnicity.

Research shows Maine adults 18 and older who have a family income of less than $25,000 a year, do not have a bachelor’s degree, and Mainers of Color are most impacted by health inequality. These groups are more likely to delay seeking health coverage when sick, more likely to lack insurance to assist in covering the cost of medical visits, and more likely to be unable to afford necessary prescription medications.

More than one-fifth of all Mainers surveyed, across all income ranges, reported needing to stretch out payments for medical services. Individuals making $25,000-$49,999 were statistically the most likely to be paying off medical debt over a period of time.

“To make improvements that help people to live better, healthier, and happier lives, we have to start addressing barriers to care like affordability of services and access to insurance coverage,” said Barbara Leonard, President & CEO of the Maine Health Access Foundation. “Access to appropriate and quality health care should not be decided by education level, income level, or a person’s skin color, nor should someone’s health care needs lead them to financial hardship. These are urgent issues, and represent systemic problems that must be addressed to guarantee equal health care for all in every part of Maine.”

Overall, measures of access to care among vulnerable populations in Maine largely remained unchanged between 2012-2014 and 2014-2016.

The Maine Health Access Foundation's mission is to promote access to quality health care, especially for those who are uninsured and underserved, and improve the health of everyone in Maine.

MeHAF works with nonprofit partners and key leaders in the public and private sectors to advance initiatives and policies that particularly help those who face barriers accessing health care services and achieving optimal health. Each year we provide approximately $4 million in grant and program funding to support activities aligned with our mission.


For questions, please contact Jeb Murphy, Communications Associate at the Maine Health Access Foundation by phone at 207.620.8266 x117 or by email at


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