AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace (OHIM) has announced that more than 62,500 Maine residents have signed up for affordable health coverage in 2024 through CoverME.gov, Maine’s health insurance marketplace, during the open enrollment period that concluded in January.
Open enrollment through CoverME.gov -- the only place where Maine residents can shop for plans that meet Affordable Care Act quality coverage standards and find financial savings to help pay monthly premiums – ran from Nov. 1, 2023 to Jan. 16, 2024. For plan year 2024, more than four out of five Mainers who selected a plan during open enrollment qualified for financial help.
Of the 62,533 consumers who selected a health plan, 10,243 were new consumers who didn’t have a marketplace plan at the beginning of open enrollment, topping the number of new consumers who signed up for 2023 coverage. The remainder were returning consumers who actively re-enrolled or were automatically re-enrolled in a plan. Another 7,950 consumers selected standalone dental plans.
Maine is one of 19 states that fully run their own Health Insurance Marketplaces, with the Federal government running the rest through HealthCare.gov. Maine expanded Medicaid, or MaineCare, for children in families with income below 300 percent of the federal poverty level in October 2023, shifting financial assistance for and enrollment of children from CoverME.gov to MaineCare.
“Having health care saves lives,” said Maine Gov. Janet Mills. “I am glad to see that thousands of Maine people can now see a doctor, afford their medications, and receive high-quality preventative care because they signed up for affordable health coverage through CoverME.gov.”
Other state officials agree.
“We’re thrilled to welcome so many new consumers into coverage in 2024,” said Hilary Schneider, Director of the DHHS Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace, which runs CoverME.gov. “Our enhanced marketing and outreach plans and strong partnerships with community organizations, brokers, and health insurance carriers helped Mainers in need of health coverage to find meaningful, affordable health plans.”
Health coverage can prevent an accident or illness from devastating an individual’s or family’s finances, said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew.
“CoverME.gov is contributing to more Maine residents having the peace of mind of health care when they need it,” Lambrew said.
Reasons for why so many new consumers enrolled this year vary.
“I turned 26 and could no longer be on my parents' plan. Looking at the costs of plans before I filled out the financial aid application, I thought I’d never be able to get affordable insurance,” said Sarah Rinaldi, who first enrolled in coverage as a full-time nursing student in Portland. “I found out I qualify for financial assistance which means I can pay for it out of pocket as a full-time student. Now I pay $60 a month for my insurance but it’s normally a $300-plus plan. The fact that I was able to pay for my insurance without having to have a full-time job while in school as well was really a relief for me.”
A number of changing health coverage dynamics affected CoverME.gov enrollment for 2024, including:
Expanded financial savings helped shield eligible CoverME.gov consumers from premium increases: While average premiums set by insurance companies rose in Maine and many other states in 2024, premiums paid by consumers qualifying for financial assistance increased by less than $33 per month, thanks to extra financial assistance from the federal government.
Consumers with financial assistance chose comprehensive coverage with lower out-of-pocket costs: Fifty-six percent of those who qualify for financial assistance to pay monthly premiums enrolled in a plan that covers at least 70 percent of out-of-pocket costs, compared to 44 percent of those who do not receive premium assistance who chose plans with relatively higher deductibles and copays.
With expanded eligibility for MaineCare, fewer children are enrolled in CoverME.gov: As expected, the marketplace saw a decrease in enrollment of consumers aged 20 and younger as a result of the Maine Legislature passing a law to expand eligibility of MaineCare (Medicaid) coverage for children under age 21, which took effect in October 2023. Eligibility increased to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $90,000 annually for a family of four. This translated to 13 percent fewer individuals aged 20 and under enrolling in health coverage through CoverME.gov during open enrollment for 2024 compared to 2023.
Marketing and outreach to support awareness of Open Enrollment was a significant focus for CoverME.gov between Nov. 1, 2023, and Jan. 16, 2024. Advertising ran in markets across the state through traditional media including TV, radio, and on buses, and through digital and social media, as well as direct outreach to consumers through thousands of mailed notices and emails. In addition, 41,199 people used the Plan Compare Tool, which allows users to compare plans side-by-side with regard to plan features, benefits, provider networks, prescription drug coverage, and total out-of-pocket costs, including premiums, deductibles, and estimated costs for services. Increased awareness also resulted in record call volume for the CoverME.gov’s Consumer Assistance Center, up 12 percent from 2023. CoverME.gov answered 544 calls per day on average and anyone requesting a call back received it in same business day to help ensure anyone who wanted coverage could get enrolled.
The next CoverME.gov open enrollment will start on Nov. 1, 2024. In the meantime, Maine residents who experience a life event such as getting married or divorced, having or adopting a baby, or losing employer-sponsored coverage or MaineCare, can enroll in coverage using a Special Enrollment Period. Visit CoverME.gov for more details.
Individuals eligible for MaineCare may enroll in MaineCare at any time of year. <