BANGOR – Maine Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Deputy Commissioner Sara Gagne-Holmes joined officials from Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) and health care advocates to remind Mainers to sign up for coverage before open enrollment ends Sunday. That means the window of opportunity for individuals to sign up for health insurance or make changes to their coverage through HealthCare.gov closes Sunday at midnight.
“Maine people have new and more affordable options for health coverage this year,” said DHHS Deputy Commissioner Sara Gagne-Holmes. “More than 42,000 people now have access to critical health care through the expansion of MaineCare. While eligible Mainers can apply for MaineCare anytime of year, the Dec. 15 deadline to enroll in private coverage through the federal marketplace is just around the corner. Visit CoverME.gov to explore your options to ensure a healthy year in 2020.”
Open enrollment for the HealthCare.gov marketplace began on November 1, giving individuals the opportunity to explore affordable options for health insurance. Gov. Janet Mills kicked off 2020 open enrollment in early November by urging people to visit CoverME.gov to understand their options and sign up for coverage.
“Ensuring that Maine people have high-quality, affordable health coverage is key not only to their health and wellbeing, but to the success of our state as well,” said Governor Mills. “With the end of open enrollment fast approaching, I urge Maine people to visit CoverME.gov to understand their health insurance options and sign up for the coverage that can help them live healthy lives.”
PCHC, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Maine, hosted the event to help deliver the message that it is not only important to have coverage, but to know that the opportunity to review options and to find the best plan for each individual can make a big difference.
“By having a health insurance plan, you are helping to ensure that you can get the complete and total care you need,” said Dr. Noah Nesin, Chief Medical Officer at PCHC. “Health insurance keeps the out-of-pocket cost for preventative care, procedures, and treatments lower for the individual, and can reduce the amount of charitable care that is necessary from hospitals and doctor’s offices, which lowers the overall cost of healthcare for everyone.”
“We know health insurance can be frustrating and confusing,” said Trudy Gray, Outreach and Enrollment Supervisor at PCHC. “But it can also provide peace of mind to ensure quality care for your entire family. There are people willing to help and there are resources to help you navigate the best options for you.”
Open enrollment for private plans on the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace began Nov. 1, with coverage starting on January 1, 2020. According to new data, 59 percent of federal marketplace enrollees in Maine can find a plan for $10 or less per month, while 74 percent can find a plan for $75 or less. Benchmark premiums in Maine will drop for the second consecutive year, falling by 6 percent in 2020 (PDF), following an 8 percent decrease in 2019.
Maine people are eligible for insurance through MaineCare if their annual income is less than $17,236 for a single person or $29,435 for a family of three. Eligible Maine people may enroll in MaineCare at any time of year. Maine people with incomes above the MaineCare threshold but less than $49,960 for a single person or than $85,320 for a family of three may be eligible for lower monthly premiums on the federal marketplace.
Advocates point to expanded options and the ability to use resources like CoverME.gov in encouraging individuals to take advantage of open enrollment before it ends on Sunday.
“Access to quality care is important to every person in Maine, and coverage options have expanded this year,” said Barbara Leonard, President & CEO of the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF). “With affordable options on the Marketplace and broadened MaineCare eligibility, the time is truly now. Applying for health insurance coverage may seem like one more thing to add to a long list of ‘To Dos’ this busy season, but it is an important one, so don’t delay.”
“No matter where you live or what type of coverage you qualify for, you don’t have to do this alone,” said Kate Ende, policy director for Consumers for Affordable Health Care. “Free in-person assistance is available throughout the state and our HelpLine team is standing by and ready to help answer your questions and guide you through the enrollment process, so give us a call today at 1-800-965-7476.”
About Penobscot Community Health Care
Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) founded in 1997 to ensure access to comprehensive, integrated primary health care services for all to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and the Maine communities served. Sixteen practices and program service sites in the Bangor area, and in Belfast and Jackman, offer a wide range of services including family medicine, dental, pediatrics, geriatrics, mental health and substance abuse, specialty services, pharmacy and healthcare for the homeless. Online at www.pchc.com.