|PORTLAND – Rates for individual health care plans in Maine will drop as much as 60% in July as a result of health reform law PL 90, the free-market health insurance reform bill passed by the legislature last year. The Maine Heritage Policy Center was a key advocate of the bill.
Information contained in Anthem’s most recent rate proposal indicates substantial positive results from the law’s passage. After years of double-digit rate increases, the overall increase in this latest filing was only 1.7%. But digging deeper, the impact on individuals opting for newly-offered products is astounding.
Young people are big winners: 19- to 24-year-olds will be able to buy a health insurance plan with a $2,000 deductible for about $200 per month—a substantial reduction compared to the current cost of $450.
A 19- to 24-year-old with a deductible of $10,000 would pay just $100 a month—less than a typical iPhone plan.
Anthem’s new plan, Healthchoice Plus, offers dramatic savings. The plan features a lower deductible ($2,000 vs $2,250) and includes mental health coverage, not offered in Anthem’s previous Healthchoice product. Despite the lower deductible and additional coverage, premiums for the new product are far lower – from 28% lower for policyholders 60 and older to 52% lower for those aged 19 to 24.
During the debate over the health reform law last year, left-wing advocacy groups and editorial writers were sharply critical of the free market proposal. In a Bangor Daily News editorial titled “Rushed insurance reform is wrong medicine”, the paper called the new law “flawed and unstudied.”
Trish Riley, Governor Baldacci’s head of Health Policy and Finance, claimed the law would “roll back consumer protections, increase costs, raise new taxes, create new bureaucracy and lower health benefits”.
Hilary Schneider of the American Cancer Society claimed the law would result in “Unreasonable and unaffordable rates for health insurance.”
House Democrat John Martin opposed the passage of this law so vehemently that he threatened fellow legislators who voted for it.
“I will go to Houlton. I will go to Machias. I will go to Norway. I will got to Caribou, and go to Presque Isle and have regional meetings to discuss your vote.”
Advocacy groups such as Consumers for Affordable Health Care, the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine Democrat Party, and scores of Democrat legislators actively fought against the passage of this bill that is now responsible for some of the most dramatic rate decreases ever seen in Maine.
“Since the law took effect this past October, we have seen the law’s impact to Maine’s small group insurance market,” said Joel Allumbaugh, Director of Health Reform Initiatives at The Maine Heritage Policy Center. “Now we are seeing significant progress in the individual insurance market, with rate decreases up to 60%. It’s a huge step forward for Maine.”
“Opponents of free market reform have a lot of explaining to do,” said MHPC CEO Lance Dutson.“These rate reductions show the real positive impact of market-center health insurance policy, and prove once and for all that the campaign against PL90 was nothing more than political fear-mongering. Now that the results are in, I hope Rep. Martin will make good on his promise to go town to town discussing the impact of this law.”
Read more about the impact of PL90, visit The Maine Wire: