Maine Healthcare Experts Disagree on Impact of Insurance Changes

Maine healthcare experts disagreed on Wednesday about the impact of legislation that would make significant changes to the state health insurance system, according to a Morning Sentinel report.

Wendy Wolf, MD, CEO of the Maine Health Access Foundation, said L.D. 1333, which was passed with mostly Republican support in May, represents one of the most drastic changes in health insurance since the 1990s. The law would ease regulations in the health insurance system by allowing state residents to shop for health insurance out-of-state. The law would also give insurance companies flexibility in setting rates based on patient age, smoking habits and residency location.

The law would also create a "high risk pool" for those who use a high number of healthcare services. Everyone in the state with private coverage would then pay a monthly assessment between $4 and $6 to cover the people in the pool.

Garrett Martin, associate director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, said the law will increase rates for older residents and those who live in rural areas. He said there are too few young, healthy people entering the market to drive the prices down. On the other side of the spectrum, Joel Allumbaugh, director of Health Reform Initiatives for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, said the coverage will provide a more cost-effective option for all Maine residents.  

Read the Morning Sentinel report on state health insurance.

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