Expect Major Changes to Your Health Insurance Cost
Good morning, I’m House Democratic Leader Emily Cain from Orono.
Thank you for tuning in.
With the summer winding down, many of the laws we passed this year will be going into effect in September. You may begin to feel the impact of those laws very soon. One of those laws is the major health insurance overhaul Republicans pushed through the Legislature a few months ago.
We are already seeing the negative impacts of this health insurance overhaul. The Ellsworth American reported last week that small businesses in rural Maine will be seeing their health insurance costs go up more than sixty percent as early as October.
The local newspaper reported that small businesses in Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties will see skyrocketing increases in health insurance costs. One local insurance broker told the paper that several of his clients with five employees or fewer may see increases as high as 70 percent. In Presque Isle, according the Ellsworth American report, one company would see a 90 percent increase.
The paper reported that premium hikes like these will put the companies at their breaking points.
Democrats in the Legislature opposed this law for many reasons, but most of all for this dangerous impact. We feared it would drive up costs for small businesses in rural Maine. We feared it would hurt people living in rural Maine. We feared it would hurt anyone over the age of 48.
When the law was debated in the Legislature, Republicans would not give the state Bureau of Insurance time to provide an updated analysis of its impact. However, an analysis of a similar proposal from 2007 showed the measure could cause health care rates in rural Maine to go up at least 20 percent.
Now, we see the reality may be even worse than the initial estimates.
Governor LePage and Republicans in the Legislature recklessly rushed this bill into law with no data to back up the merits of the plan.
The overhaul will allow insurance companies selling individual policies to set rates based on age at up to five times higher than the lowest rate. And, most troubling, there will be no limits on rate changes depending on where you live, or what kind of job you have.
The bill also creates a reinsurance pool controlled almost completely by insurance companies that will be paid for with a new tax on every insurance holder.
In addition to making health care more expensive for rural Mainers, the law repeals rules that limit how far an insurance company can ask policyholders to travel to get care in network. It will now be more expensive for people living in rural communities to visit their local doctor.
While younger Mainers living in the south will see lower costs from the Republican plan, the people who need health insurance the most, and can least afford it, in our state will suffer. That’s not the Maine way.
Businesses across Maine already say health insurance costs in our state make it hard to do business here. The impact of the law has yet to be fully felt, but we are already seeing that this misdirected law is causing harm to our small businesses.
The law is especially bad for a state in which more than 70 percent of our businesses are small.
Democrats believe working to lower the cost of health care for Maine people with market reforms, while increasing quality and accessibility, is and should be our top priority. How to get there is what fuels the health insurance debate. Now we have proof that the Republican plan is taking us in the wrong direction.
Thank you for listening. I’m Rep. Emily Cain from Orono.