Susan Deschambault

Whether it’s a pandemic-related illness, general health and wellbeing, or a medical emergency, everyone needs to have access to health care to live full and sustaining lives. When we are healthy and taken care of, we can go to work, raise our children, support our families and have some fun – when time allows for it. According to recent data for 2020, nearly 70,000 Mainers – about five percent of our state’s population – are uninsured. With ongoing changes in the economy and the workforce and disruptions from the pandemic, that number has certainly changed. When people go without health insurance, it hurts our communities, economy, schools and workplaces. But it’s not their fault; health coverage can be expensive, and it can be confusing to figure out which plan is right for you. If people can’t see their doctors, afford their medications or stay healthy, we all suffer in one way or another.

That’s why I’m glad that this month, Maine’s new state-based Health Insurance Marketplace opened to the public. Open enrollment – the period during which Mainers can shop for health insurance plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace – runs from Nov. 1, 2021 to Jan. 15, 2022. If you need coverage starting Jan. 1, 2022, then you need to enroll by Dec. 15, 2021. If you wait until Jan. 15, 2021 to enroll, then your coverage will start on Feb. 1, 2021. In addition to this being the first year for an entirely state-based marketplace, more financial aid is available, which will make coverage affordable for more people than ever before. These changes, in addition to the Legislature establishing the Office of Affordable Health Care in Maine, will promote affordable health care coverage for Mainers. All of the private health insurance plans on CoverME.gov provide quality, comprehensive coverage that will protect consumers if they have an accident or major illness. Moreover, these plans cannot turn someone away or charge someone more if they have a pre-existing condition. Because of this, these plans will literally save lives.

I would encourage all uninsured Mainers to visit CoverME.gov, where they can learn more about health insurance options; compare plans, determine whether they qualify for financial help; and enroll in quality, affordable health coverage. Even if you’ve checked out the marketplace before, there may be new plans available that suit you and your family better. CoverME.gov was made specifically for Maine, and created by the State of Maine, to address the unique needs of its people, communities and insurance market. Maine can customize the Marketplace to fit Mainers’ needs and tailor outreach and resources. The Plan Compare Tool allows shoppers to quickly get an estimate of financial assistance they may qualify for and see the different coverage options and prices for health insurance plans offered through the Marketplace. If you need help finding or enrolling in a plan, you can visit CoverME.gov/localhelp or call (866) 636-0355/TTY 711.

Consumers for Affordable Health Care is another great resource for those who are looking to enroll in a health care plan through the state-based marketplace. You can visit them online at mainecahc.org or call their Consumer Assistance Helpline at 1-800-965-7476. The hotline can assist you with finding affordable health coverage, understanding your options on the new marketplace, enrolling in MaineCare, understanding your health coverage, filing an appeal or complaint, and find programs to help with health care and prescription drug costs.

No one should be going without health care any time, but at especially this time. If you don’t have health coverage, or are looking for a plan that offers better coverage, please log online and start comparing and enrolling in health insurance plans that are now more affordable for over 80 percent of those who are eligible. There’s nothing more important than someone’s health – and the health of their families.

As ever, I am honored to represent you and your family in Augusta. If I can be of assistance, you can contact me at [email protected] or (207) 287-1515.

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