Sunday, December 8, 2013
By John Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — Deregulation of Maine's health insurance industry has not made coverage more affordable for individuals or employers, according to a report issued Tuesday by Consumer for Affordable Health Care.
The Augusta-based non-profit advocacy group opposed Maine's Public Law 90, which was passed in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature.
The law rolls back regulations in the health insurance market. Among other things, it allows insurers to charge employers more if their workers are older and less if their workers are younger. Advocates predicted that would drive down health insurance rate overall by encouraging more healthy young people to buy more affordable insurance.
The law also includes a tax on people who have insurance through their employers to reduce the costs of insurance for people whop have to buy their own.
The Consumers for Affordable Health Care reports, titled "Few Winners, Many Losers," says:
- Rates have gone up for 54 percent of people who buy individual insurance.
- Rates have gone up for 90 percent of small businesses that provide coverage to employees, especially those with older workers in rural areas.
- Policy holders have paid $22 million for a reinsurance program in the individual market "that supported higher profits to the state's largest insurance company."
The report also says there is no indication that more young people are entering the market and buying insurance.
The new report is the latest in a series of studies by supporters and critics of the law. Democrats responded that the report offers more evidence that the law should be repealed.
Republicans, on the other hand, have said the law is working overall even though some businesses with older employees are temporarily paying more. They say the fact that rates have come down for some individuals and businesses and increased slightly for some others indicates the law is working as expected. It will take time to see the full effects of younger people entering the market, they say.
According to a statement from the LePage Administration, 10.2 percent of small business saw rates drop in late 2011 and early 2012 compared to 3.3 percent during the same period a year before. "While rates can vary significantly among groups for many reasons ... the overall change since the enactment of PL 90 is a 6.9 percent increase in the number of small (businesses) experiencing rate relief," it says.