Maine’s uninsured rate experienced the largest decline in the nation in recent years, Governor Janet Mills announced today.
The Governor highlighted a new report (PDF) from the U.S. Census Bureau showing that Maine’s uninsured rate dropped from 8.0 percent in 2019 to 5.7 percent in 2021, representing the largest percentage decline among all states in the nation.
“Having health insurance saves lives. That’s why since my first day in office, I have fought to make health care more accessible and more affordable for all Maine people. This report shows we are succeeding,” said Governor Janet Mills.“Over the last two years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Maine outperformed every other state in improving health coverage. Now more Maine people can see a doctor, afford medications, and receive preventive care, keeping families and our economy both healthy. I’ll keep fighting for critical health care coverage that protects the lives and livelihoods of Maine people.”
According to the report, 5.7 percent of Maine’s population lacked health insurance in 2021, compared to 8.0 percent in 2019. This represents a drop of 2.3 percentage points, the largest decline of any state, with Idaho a close second. This percentage point change in the uninsured rate translates into a 27 percent decline in the estimated number of uninsured people to 77,639 in 2021. Maine went from having the 26th to 14th lowest uninsured rate in the nation.
Further, as a result of more people having health insurance in Maine, uncompensated care for Maine hospitals fell by $84.1 million between 2018 and 2020, according to information from the Maine Health Data Organization.
“Thanks to Governor Mills’ leadership, Maine’s uninsured rate has dropped more than in any other state in the nation,”said Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew. “This means more Maine people can get the care they need without having to choose between other necessities. The Census report shows that the Governor’s commitment to the health of Maine people and Maine’s economy is paying off.”
“Since her first day in office, the Governor has worked to improve access to more affordable health coverage. Her efforts are paying off as more Maine people are able to get the care they need,” said Ann Woloson, Executive Director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care. “This is also good news for many health care providers who rely on patient care being covered to help keep their doors open.”
“Maine hospitals have long been supportive of expanding health coverage and this great news proves it is the right policy,” said Steve Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association. “With the federal government paying for the vast majority of the expansion of Medicaid, this is a big win for Maine people, hospitals and other providers of care, and the Maine economy.”
The Census report further confirms the progress made under the Mills Administration in ensuring Maine people have access to health insurance. It shows slight increases in employer-based and other private coverage as well as a significant increase in coverage as a result of the Medicaid expansion in Maine.
This latest report follows an August report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showing that Maine’s uninsured rate dropped nearly 5 percentage points among those eligible for Medicaid expansion from 2018 to 2020, the third largest decline in the nation.
Governor Mills’ successful record on health care includes:
- Expanding Medicaid: Medicaid expansion was approved overwhelmingly by Maine people in 2017 at the ballot box. After being blocked by the previous administration, implementing expansion was Governor Mills’ first official act as Governor and was her Administration’s first step in improving health care for Maine people. Today, 99,312 residents are covered through the expansion, and it has helped more than 136,000 people in the three years since its launch — or approximately one in 10 residents. The Federal government pays 90 percent of the cost of this coverage, which has supported hospitals’ cost of caring for patients that were previously uninsured, a move that has been especially important during the pandemic.
- Putting Affordable Care Act Protections into State Law: In 2019, just weeks after expanding Medicaid, Governor Mills also signed into law bipartisan legislation to codify insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions, ensuring that Maine people with cancer, asthma, or other chronic conditions don’t get charged more or denied private coverage altogether from insurance companies regulated by the state.
- Enrolling More People in Health Insurance: Also under Governor Mills’ leadership, Maine has established its own State-based Health Insurance Marketplace – CoverME.gov. A State-based Marketplace allows Maine to customize the Marketplace to fit Maine people’s needs and to tailor outreach and resources toward uninsured communities. In its first open enrollment for 2022, CoverME.gov enrolled 66,095 individuals, a 10 percent increase over 2021, which reversed declines in Marketplace plan selections since 2017.
- Making Health Insurance More Affordable for Small Businesses: Thanks to a bill Governor Mills proposed and signed into law, small businesses will see their first annual average reduction in health insurance premiums since at least 2001, while average small group premiums in many other northeast states will increase. The Governor has also launched the Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program that lowers the cost of monthly health insurance premiums for small businesses and their employees. It has saved more than $20 million for 5,764 small businesses in Maine and 46,348 Maine people – employees and their families – as of June 2022.
In 2020, Governor Mills signed into law The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, a unanimously approved bill that makes make some of the most common medical visits free or less costly; simplifies shopping for a health care plan; leverages Federal funds to help make premiums more affordable for small businesses; and puts Maine in the driver’s seat to ensure that all Maine people have clear choices for their coverage.