Health insurance costs in Maine are a big concern. But how do Maine's health insurance rates compare to those in other states?
We know that Maine has the highest tax burden of all 50 states. But do you also know that Maine has some of the highest health insurance rates? And just like with our high taxes, it doesn't have to be that way.
A Maine family of four buying an individual insurance policy from Anthem must pay $1,395 per month. And that's with a $1,000 deductible. Yet, that same family living across the border in New Hampshire only pays $586 a month for the same Anthem policy. If they live in the similarly rural state of North Dakota, then they only pay a low $346 per month. The reason for this difference is not hard to understand. It has to do with bad insurance regulation which drives up costs in Maine.
Maine's high insurance affects our job climate and cost of living. It forces more people to go uninsured because they are not able to purchase affordable coverage. We need to change Maine's insurance regulation to make health insurance more affordable.
Recently the Maine Senate considered a bill that would do exactly that. LD 1190 would set up a high risk pool in Maine individual insurance market. Like New Hampshire and North Dakota, a high risk pool in Maine would provide lower health insurance rates in Maine while providing reasonable premiums to the sick and healthy alike.
While the Senate Republicans, on a nearly party line vote, voted in favor of LD 1190, the Senate Democrats rejected this bill, and it did not pass. Much of the rhetoric in the debate focused on Democrats stating that Governor Baldacci's Dirigo Health plan would result in more affordable insurance.
That may or may not be true. But shouldn't we implement other health insurance reforms as well that are proven to lower the cost of health insurance? Now, that would be true leadership.