Will Maine see a big spike in Obamacare enrollments? What a Presque Isle man’s story suggests

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 9.57.41 PMFor almost the first two months of the federal insurance exchange, signups went very slowly. There were just so many glitches.

Erin Rhoda tells the story of a man in Presque Isle, Wilbur Clark, who appears to have suffered through a technical problem. He was first told he would have to pay over $700/month but after working with navigators and others it turns out his premium is $36/month.

This cost is rather stunning — just $36/month for insurance.

Under the ACA everyone has preventive care covered at no cost. Note also that people at his income level have subsidized copays and deductibles, meaning he’d pay little for care.

But a comment also suggests that enrollments in the Maine exchange are pretty healthy.

One of the groups involved in helping this fellow was Maine Community Health Options, a provider co-op that received a grant under the ACA to get started.

Look at what the group’s CEO said:

Kevin Lewis, chief executive officer of Maine Community Health Options, said he couldn’t speak about Clark specifically. “But I can say that we’ve worked successfully with hundreds of thousands of people to ensure that they have the advantage of the ACA’s advanced premium tax credit.”

According to acasignups.net, just 1,747 Mainers had signed up for insurance through the exchanges through the end of November 2013.

Even if, say, one quarter of “hundreds of thousands of people” have signed up for insurance through the exchange, that would make total signups much, much higher than that most recent report.

Perhaps Lewis was exaggerating and it wasn’t hundreds of thousands but rather thousands. Or perhaps MCHO worked with that many but a number, including people who made too little (and fell in the Medicaid gap) or made too much and did not qualify for subsidies, didn’t purchase insurance through the marketplace.

Until the updated Maine data come out, all we can do is wait and see. But other states’ experiences suggest there could be some strong increases.

As I’ve mentioned before, Connecticut has already met its 2014 CBO goal. In fact, based on January 5, 2014 data, it’s almost 25% above that goal.

And, per acasignups.net, Rhode Island’s most recent data has it at 94% toward its most CBO goal.

But Maine may show a big increase since the end of November 2013, perhaps putting us more in line with the figures from these or other New England states which had less robust growth than Connecticut and Rhode Island but more than Maine.

The Presque Isle man’s experience and the comments by Kevin Lewis suggest this very well may be the case.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.