As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into a third year, it is more important than ever for Mainers to have affordable, quality health care. Maine is only as strong as its people; and our people can’t be strong unless they can go to the doctor, afford their medications and stay healthy. That’s why I’m excited to write about Maine’s new state-based health insurance marketplace, which launched on Nov. 1.

Anne Carney

During the 2020 open enrollment period, nearly 60,000 Mainers signed up for health insurance on the federal marketplace. This year, I hope that even more eligible Mainers will sign up to get coverage for their families and themselves on the new Maine Health Insurance Marketplace. Recent data show an estimated 70,000 Mainers lack health coverage, but this is something we can fix. If you already have coverage through the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace, you will receive notices from the Federal government and Maine’s CoverME.gov about what the transition process looks like.

Maine’s marketplace helps people without access to affordable health care coverage learn more about health insurance options; compare plans; determine whether they qualify for financial help; and enroll in an affordable, quality health insurance plan. The marketplace, which can be found at CoverME.gov, is designed to meet the unique needs of Maine’s people, communities and insurance market.

Please make sure that you go to CoverME.gov and not coverme.org, as coverme.org is a corporation website. All private health insurance plans that are offered on CoverME.gov – and there are 71 of them – provide comprehensive, quality coverage, which will protect consumers if they have an accident or major illness. Most importantly, no marketplace plan can turn you away or charge you more for having a pre-existing condition.

There are other great changes in Maine’s marketplace, too.

First, we have an extra month of open enrollment, which runs until Jan. 15, 2022. However, if you need coverage by Jan. 1, 2022, you must enroll no later than Dec. 15, 2021. If you enroll after that, your coverage will begin on Feb. 1, 2022.

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A second change is the new plan compare tool. This great feature allows Mainers to estimate eligibility for financial assistance, to see likely costs, to find providers and prescriptions covered by different plans and to compare available plans without having to complete an application or create an account. The tool helps the 80 percent of current marketplace Mainers who qualify for financial assistance to lower their monthly and out-of-pocket costs for health care. It also helps the 70 percent of current marketplace Mainers who will be able to find a plan with a monthly premium of $50 or less.

I have given you a lot of information, so I’ll end with easy ways to get help enrolling.

Maine’s Consumer Assistance Center provides consumers with accessible, free help for navigating the Maine marketplace. Please call 1-866-636-0355 for help. Consumers for Affordable Health Care also operates a Consumer Assistance Helpline. Please call 1-800-965-7476 for help. These two resources and CoverME.gov will help all uninsured Mainers get the health insurance coverage that they and their families deserve.

If you need assistance with open enrollment or another issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at 287-1515 or [email protected] It’s a pleasure to serve you as your state senator.

Anne Carney represents Maine Senate District 29, which consists of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough.

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