Not a state for older people

On May 6, the Maine House of Representatives voted along party lines, 76-72, to enact LD 1333, a bill revamping the health insurance laws in Maine.

The bill, by many accounts (with the ink still wet and text barely read), was rushed into a floor vote without the impact of the bill adequately verified by independent parties or the usual and customary open forum for public input that Maine citizens expect.

LD 1333 raises the amount older, non-elderly Mainers may be charged from the current one and a half times to five times the lowest rate. The bill, as has been referenced by its sponsors and many reports, is modeled after Idaho's health insurance laws. The median age in Idaho, per the 2010 Census, is 34.2 years; in Maine, the median age is 42.7. Maine has a much different population.

One might conclude that the wish for lower health care costs (to be realized by LD 1333) will occur only as the older citizens get the message that they are not wanted here and move to a state more supportive of their age group.

LD 1333 must be thoroughly exposed to dialogue and daylight. Common sense dictates it should get more scrutiny than the status of whoopie pie. After all, we are talking about life and death, not dessert.

Jim Stephenson, Raymond

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Comments

Mike True's picture

LD 1333

It seems to me that we need to decide whether or not having health care is a right for all of our citizens. If you think that it is a right earned by having a certain amount of success making money then we can have a multi-tiered structure of health care - this is what we have now and the passing of LD 1333 will not change that. I think that providing medical services for all should be a right of citizenship and we should develop a single payer system - similar to what is going on in Vermont.

Jason Theriault's picture

My biggest concern is regulation

Let me tell you a little story. I used to work for a international company. They were headquarters in a southern state. As a benefit, they provided insurance. This southern state allowed them to act as the insurer and then have Anthem manage the plan, so we had Anthem's network of providers.
My wife and I were blessed with a son, and submitted all the information when we had it to add him to our plan. Then, we got hit with a $5,000 bill on top of our copays and whatnot. Well, according to Anthem, he wasn't a member at the time of his birth, so they weren't covering it. Now, under Maine law, that wasn't the case, so I went to the Bureau of Insurance and complained.
They could do nothing because it was out of state insurance.
We went back and forth, and eventually had to pay $5,000 more than we should have because we didn't have the Bureau of Insurance and Maine law protecting us.
So I'm weary of out of state insurance. Yes, it's more expensive here in Maine, but what good is insurance if they can weasel out of paying cause they are located in an insurance friendly state?

 's picture

Ms. Gamache says she

Ms. Gamache says she appreciates an exchange of ideas. That's refreshing, because it has been disallowed for nearly twenty years. Whenever a Maine politician had the temerity to suggest a tweak to the status quo, the Democrat machinery rumbled into action to squelch the exchange. As things may be opening up a bit, here goes.

My wife and I are 63 and we'll cheerfully sign a waiver to the effect that, if she gets pregnant, we'll take care of the situation without recourse to insurance or government handout. Why can't we buy a policy that does NOT provide maternity benefits and, presumably, a significantly lower premium? It's not the insurance companies who say I can't do that; it's the ideology that just lost its stranglehold on Augusta.

If it's biased to imply that government is the root of all that is wrong in the world, it's equally biased to imply that government is the provider of all that is right. Ask folks in Greece.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Comparing oranges and apples

Comparing one state to another has its plusses but its minuses too. Both Idaho and New Hampshire have a much larger young population and they have a higher per capita income and level of education (perhaps they are also healthier). Do you suppose that could affect the rates and the size of the pool? Also since the insurance company will be the ones deciding on what kind of policies they will offer, the state having ceded most of its controls, there is no way anyone can depend on any of these promises.

 's picture

Do you suppose ...

... one of the big reasons Maine has a small and shrinking youth population, who work for minimum wage because they barely got out of high school, is the lousy insurance environment, just one aspect of the lousy business environment? With government in charge, as it has been, premiums have gone through the roof, competition is illegal, policies are one-size-fits-all, and the only people who are insured are those who are subsidized by employers or government or both. Those are the promises we know about and, boy, are they well kept.

Jason Theriault's picture

Seriosuly?

Yeah, and where do these jobs/kids go? By your logic, it should be some Republican strong hold of laissez faire government where business are free to do what they want. Of course, by your logic, business interests never conflict with the public good and capitalism is the solution to any problem, even cancer.

Oh wait, the youth and jobs go to Massachusetts. A state Forbes lists as the most expensive to do business in.
But they back it up with probably the smartest workforce in the country.

 's picture

Only Mass?

Jason, do you have a reference to support your claim that Maine youth and jobs go only to Mass? Of course not. They go all over the country, various places, for various reasons. Mass. has been a high-tech magnet for decades, since the '60s at least, in spite of their Maine-like tinkering with business and social issues, and the attendant high cost of living.

I never said that capitalism is the solution to all problems. I do believe that, without compelling evidence to the contrary, a free-market solution is always better than a government solution. Evidence abounds that Maine's experiment in socialized medicine is an expensive failure. Changes are in order, even if we can't be 100% certain of the outcome, because we can be absolutely certain of the status quo. Dirigo Health is the best example. It was created with the promise that, well before now, around 400,000 Mainers would be covered. Today the figure is about 4,000, off by only a factor of 100. So much for government certainty.

Jason Theriault's picture

Bias

"I do believe that, without compelling evidence to the contrary, a free-market solution is always better than a government solution. "

That's the problem right there. I assume both will have their own issues. The government solution will become bloated as those running it seek to expand thweir fiefdom. The private sector solution will be as lean as it can get away with, as profit is their driving motivator. Now, for many things, a private sector solution is best. Keeping a process as lean as possible mimics natural selection, ensuring the process stays viable.

However, there are sectors where that is not acceptable. And that is places where people can lose their life. Police, fire, military are all government run as the price of skimping is measured in lives, not dollars. The same goes for health care. Thats why I don't have an issue with government run health care. Thats not to say the private secotr shouldn't play a role. I think that extending Medicare to everyone would be the ideal solution. The those who want extra healthcare could get it, and pay for it.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

LD 1333

Just so you know I really appreciate an exchange of ideas with people who do not agree with me however I am sensing a really concrete idealogical (the government is the root of all that is wrong in the world) bias here. No one would argue with you that that current health care situation in this state or even in this country is sustainable. That is the reason all of these conversations are taking place is because the problem is acute. The question is whether or not LD 1333 is the best solution to that problem. I for one find it difficult to believe that "taking away from Peter to pay Paul" is the best we can do. And while I am very well aware of the limitations of government intervention in social affairs, I do not share your confidence in the generosity of insurance companies and I do not think the normal capitalistic rules of competition bringing better products and prices apply when it comes to things people have to have in order to survive like food, fuel and medecine. Both our food and our fuel are heavily subsidized by the government in order to keep prices at a level where you do not have wholesale freezing and starvation of the poor. I think it is inevitable given the advances in medecine that we will not routinely let people die of easily curable illnesses just because they are poor. I think this bill if passed will prove to be a disappointment and will be amended very soon after it is passed.

RONALD RIML's picture

'Legacy of Failure' is Insurance System Vs. Single Payer System

Keep asking why is it that the United States is the only 1st World Industrial Nation beholden to the Racketeers of Health Insurance similar to the Protection Mob of Old......

 's picture

The real racketeers are in DC

The real racketeers are in DC and, until recently, Augusta. You elected them.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The point

I think providing lower rate policies for younger mainers is laudable. It is not so wonderful that they will need to raise rates for seniors up to 5 times what they are now. Talk about getting the point or is it the shaft! Those low rate policies will also probably come with severe limitations and high copays which mean that they will never be able to collect anything on them. The insurance companies have figured out how to make us pay for premiums and for our health care at the same time. If that is the case the pool will not grow as much as we are told. That appears to be what happened in Idaho since they still have a really high rate of uninsured.

 's picture

That point sure is hard to see.

Suppose a senior couple (too young for Medicare) today pays about $3,000 per month. If you think that's a ludicrous figure, go to the Anthem website and find out for yourself, using 63 as an age. The current rules mean that the minimum premium for age 23, for the same policy, is $2,000! 2000*1.5 = 3000. Go back to the web site, pretend you are 23 and living in NH to discover what the premium could be.

The only "affordable" policies now are the high deductible ones. Your fear of what might happen is already here, the direct result of the mandates promulgated by Augusta in the early '90s.

Lefties always blame the evil companies because, if the blame landed where it really belongs, Democrats would be out of power for generations.

 's picture

You missed the point ...

... of changing the ratio from 1:1.5 to 1:5. It is to "allow" insurance companies to reduce dramatically premiums for the young, to get more people participating in the pool. Currently a 24 year old in Maine pays much more than a 24 year old in NH for the same policy because it is illegal in ME to lower the premium. That is, youth in ME don't bother with insurance unless they get it "free" from an employer.

Democrats encourage looking at issues backwards. It's the only way they can spin a legacy out of 35 years of failure.

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