Department of Professional and Financial Regulation
Health insurance premiums, already a significant expense for small businesses in Maine, worsened during the pandemic. In the small group market, which serves businesses with 50 or fewer employees, premiums rose by about 33 percent from March 2017 to March 2020, while the number of people insured dropped 18 percent from 61,200 to 50,200. These increased costs have made it challenging for small employers to continue to provide coverage to their employees.
The Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program will help small businesses offer affordable health insurance to their workers – a critical benefit in recruiting and retaining workers as Maine recovers from the pandemic. Under the program, health insurers will receive financial assistance through the Maine Bureau of Insurance at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to reduce premiums for their small business customers by $50 per covered employee per month. Relief increases for couples and families to $80 for one adult and a child, $100 for two adults, and $130 for two adults and one or more children. Small businesses then split these savings with their workers, based on the share of the total premium the employers and employees would otherwise pay. Employers may also choose to pass on more or all of the savings to their workers.
As part of the supplemental budget bill passed in February 2023 (public law 2023, chapter 3), $6,495,414 was reallocated to extend the Small Business Health Insurance Premium Support program. This investment increases the total Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan funding to $45,495,414.