New Census Data: Modest Improvements in Health Insurance Coverage in Maine Conceal Greater Concerns

Tens of thousands of Mainers remain unnecessarily without coverage

Augusta, Maine (Tuesday, September 13, 2016) New Census Bureau data released Tuesday show modest improvements in health insurance coverage in Maine between 2014 and 2015 but also revealed more troubling longer term trends.

The percentage of Mainers without health insurance dropped from 10.1% in 2014 to 8.4% in 2015. This 1.7 percent decrease in Maine’s uninsured population mirrors the change in coverage since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 when 10.1% of Mainers lacked health insurance. Nationally, from 2010 to 2015, the proportion of people without health insurance declined by 6.1%.

“Up until 2014, Maine was the only state without significant improvements in health insurance coverage since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” said MECEP policy analyst James Myall. “While today’s numbers show modest improvement in coverage, the fact remains that Maine is losing ground compared to other states.”

Between 2010 and 2015, Maine went from having one of the smallest shares of its population without insurance – 10th in the nation – to the middle of the pack – 24th. This shift to the middle, a fall of 14 places in the ranking of the states, represents the largest drop of any state.

“When it comes to making sure Mainers have the coverage they need to get the care they need, Maine is going in the wrong direction,” Myall said. “Last year’s improvement helps but is little comfort to the tens of thousands of Mainers who could have health insurance coverage and don’t because of the LePage administration’s continued refusal to accept federal funds to improve healthcare access in the state.”

“It is not too late for Maine to improve health coverage and boost our economy by putting available federal funds to work here,” Myall said. “Today’s census data paint a compelling argument for lawmakers to do so.”

NOTE: Today’s data release by the Census Bureau included national income and poverty data for 2015.  Detailed state-level data and demographic data on health insurance, income and poverty will be released this Thursday.