Eight Challenges for Dirigo Health in 2006

Read the full report | When Dirigo Health was introduced in May 2003, supporters promised that this health reform initiative would accomplish three important objectives: eliminate all 130,000 uninsured Maine citizens within five years; be self-supporting with no new taxes or state funds (beyond the first year); and stabilize increases in health insurance premiums and healthcare cost.

Now as Dirigo Health is in its third year of operation, how is it fairing on realizing these lofty goals? Not so well, according to analysis. In fact, the entire Dirigo Health initiative appears, for political purposes, to be on life support. In 2006, Dirigo Health and DirigoChoice face eight major challenges:

1. Poor sales record

2. High dropout rate of enrollees

3. Poor performance of covering the uninsured

4. High costs to the taxpayer

5. Strong public reaction to the Savings Offset Payment (new Dirigo tax)

6. Discriminatory subsidy program creates incentives for employers not to provide health benefits

7. Uninsured rate remains unchanged despite the portion of those under 65 on Medicaid doubling in the last five years

8. Three quarters of enrollees are projected to opt for a higher deductible with a lower net premium