Affordability, Accessibility or Priority? Defining and Understanding Maine’s Uninsured

Read the full report | Today, the US Census Bureau released figures on the uninsured rate for Maine, the other states and the US as a whole for 2006. This paper provides analysis on who are Maine’s uninsured and poses questions of why they are uninsured. In 2005-2006, there were 108,000 uninsured adults in Maine, ages 18 to 64, about 12.6 percent of the 856,500 non-elderly adults in Maine. Of these uninsured adults:

• Almost 2 in every 3 uninsured Maine adults are single, without dependent children and/or in excellent or very good health.

• Almost 4 in every 10 uninsured have family incomes over $35,000 and/or are young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years.

• 1 in 3 uninsured adults are already eligible for retroactive Medicaid coverage. Therefore, they really are not uninsured but can delay enrolling in Medicaid until they actually use (or need) health care services.

In summary, Maine’s uninsured are young, healthy and/or without dependent children. They are a good insurance risk with a low chance of needing significant health care services. So why don’t they have insurance, even if only catastrophic coverage?  Is it because they don’t have access to insurance through their workplace? Is it because health insurance available to them not through the workplace (but through the individual market) is unaffordable or not an attractive value proposition? Or is it because they don’t place a high priority on health insurance in general?

Policy Recommendations for Maine Policymakers can do little to change the personal values and priorities of individuals to encourage them to voluntarily purchase health insurance. However, they can change Maine’s costly individual insurance regulations and make affordable coverage accessible to those interested with the resources to buy coverage. Affordable individual health insurance is available in

New Hampshire and Connecticut, as will be noted in future reports. Affordable private individual health insurance should be available in Maine to reduce the number of Maine adults forced to be uninsured.

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