Maine’s voluntary health care program — seemingly like Massachusetts, without the mandates — has signed up a mere 18,000 people, some of whom already had coverage:
PORTLAND, Me., April 23 – When Maine became the first state in years to enact a law intended to provide universal health care, one of its goals was to cover the estimated 130,000 residents who had no insurance by 2009, starting with 31,000 of them by the end of 2005, the program’s first year.
So far, it has not come close to that goal. Only 18,800 people have signed up for the state’s coverage and many of them already had insurance.
Their program also has a controversial funding mechanism, and the bad old problem of “adverse selection”: sick people want in, healthy ones don’t.
And of this, Matthew Holt of The Health Care Blog says bluntly, “Local Health Reform Doesn’t Work.” I hope he’s wrong.
Well, here in Massachusetts, today is the first day that the new health insurance products are available to get people to comply with our personal mandate to carry insurance. The personal mandate’s a heck of a lot less incremental and “nice” than Maine, but it is meant to tackle the problem of adverse selection.
As far as I know, we’re having trouble getting people to sign up for the state’s subsidized care; I wonder if all the publicity in the world can get folks to sign up for care, since we’re still asking people to pay with money they likely just don’t have. There are real questions about whether these high-deductible plans are worth it for folks, even though much preventative care has been included.
UPDATE: For those who need to sign up for health coverage, you can go to … the website for the state program is macommonwealthcare.com. Phone # 1-877-MA-ENROLL (877-623-6765 — note the “877”!) And you can always call Health Care for All, which provides free consultation on navigating state health care systems: online, or 800-272-4232.