My health insurance plan from Anthem Maine was canceled. I’ve spent a month studying the alternatives, and here are the results, as confirmed by the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

The least expensive Anthem Bronze plan will cost $704/month, or $8,448/year. With the Internal Revenue Service deduction for medical expenses, the final cost will be $7,806/year or $650/month. This represents 12 percent of my gross income but 16 percent of my after-tax income, which I depend on to pay my bills, buy food, housing, heating, etc.

By comparison, my canceled plan cost $325/month or $3,900/year, which represented 6 percent of my gross income, or 8 percent of my net income.

The identical plan costs more depending on where you live in Maine. If you live in Augusta, the cost, including IRS deduction, is $8,955. If you live in Fort Kent or Ellsworth, the cost will be $10,628 or 16 percent of gross income and 22 percent of net income.

You won’t receive a penny of health care reimbursement from Anthem until you’ve paid for the deductible, which is $6,350 as mandated by Obamacare requirements.

So, if you live in Fort Kent, and make $65,000 per year, well above the income to receive any subsidies, you will pay 23 percent of your gross income and 30 percent of your living expenses and not receive any health care benefits.

This is just plain wrong. Who is looking out for us middle-class, self-employed Mainers? The fault for this is clearly with Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, who both voted for the Affordable Care Act, and their president, who wrote the one-size-fits-all regulations that resulted in these costs.

Pingree has known about these costs since July of this year, but has chosen to not help the people of Maine. But we’ll remember during the next election.

Scott Clark

Cape Elizabeth

Time Warner largely mum about Al Jazeera America

Time Warner subscribers get an avalanche of mail from the company. Couldn’t they have sent a notice that Al Jazeera America was joining their lineup Dec. 6? It was revealed in Public Notices in the Portland Press Herald on Nov. 7 and 20 in print so tiny I needed a magnifying glass.

The Al Jazeera America information was nestled among multitudinous other changes but was a fait accompli, not a possibility like some listings. I called Time Warner to ask if I’d missed something that had been mailed, and nothing had been.

My daughter told me not to be upset since I have a remote and can choose not to watch it. I reminded her of Al Jazeera’s unspeakable video coverage of our servicemen being killed in Iraq and its continuing anti-Semitism. While that’s Al Jazeera, not Al Jazeera America, both answer to the same foreign owners.

My objection is that Time Warner made no outreach to subscribers, who are like shareholders. We get notices from investment companies about impending developments and from the city about things like closing Baxter Boulevard, inviting our opinions.

I never had any interest in having Al Jazeera America as part of my cable plan – strongly to the contrary – yet the decision was made for me. Why didn’t Time Warner offer it as a premium channel? I feel that the Al Jazeera group is anti-American and anti-Semitic, and I don’t want it in my home.

Al Jazeera America bought Current TV for $500 million (The New York Times, Aug. 8). Why would anyone pay that much for a failing network? I think it’s for the same reason they’re willing to pay Time Warner to carry them.

Time Warner won’t release details of the deal. Shame on Time Warner for succumbing to dollar signs and disrespecting their customers.

Barbara Carmone


DHHS debacle shows need to hire in-state providers

I’d like to know how come we lose so much money to mismanagement.

It seems like the Department of Health and Human Services has lost millions, and I see we spend $28.3 million a year to truck MaineCare people to appointments using out-of-state companies that can’t do it right and don’t even have the right paperwork in order.

I don’t understand why all this and other money has to go out of state. If we as a state can’t do this in-state, then it is time to hire the right people. I don’t care if it is the town or state, all Maine monies need to stay in state, along with the work being done with the monies we spend.

There is no way out-of-state contractors can come up here and do the job cheaper than we can do ourselves. If they can, it’s time to look at our contractors and find out why.

Towns have to get out-of-state help from special people, and we pay the town heads enough money to get the job done in-house. If not, let’s get rid of our high-paid heads and put someone in there who can do the job.

Earl Harnden


City Christmas tree lovely, but cumbersome and costly

I’m writing regarding the raising of the Christmas tree in Monument Square on Nov. 21.

There is quite obviously a lot involved to accomplish this annual tradition, from police escorts to all of the associated manpower and equipment and disruptions to traffic.

It’s a beautiful tree, but why couldn’t one of a manageable size be planted to decorate every year?

Please don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas trees. It just seems to be an excessive waste when so many people are struggling just to survive.

Jack A. Shaw


Hagel visit expenses mount as BIW employees are idled

What did that cost us taxpayers to have all those workers in John Ewing’s photo (“Defense chief tours ‘stealth’ ship at Bath Iron Works,” Nov. 22) just stand around while Chuck Hagel visited?


E. Davies Allan

Westport Island

Headline misleads readers about what vaccine can do

Your headline “Study: Vaccine doesn’t stop whooping cough infections” (Nov. 26) is misleading at best, and warrants a correction.

As The Associated Press story more accurately reports, the study showed that in primates, the current vaccine does not prevent healthy people from being carriers – it does prevent these people from getting sick. In addition, the study noted that other versions of the vaccine do prevent people from being carriers.

Sensational headlines are one thing, but the 100-day cough is too serious to be this inaccurate.

Benjamin Weiss