Maine, lobstermen and all, now at nearly 90% of state 2014 Obamacare goal

Credit: 401(K)2013/Creative Commons.

Credit: 401(K)2013/Creative Commons.

Before the state insurance marketplaces opened for people to choose plans, the federal government set goals for the first year’s enrollments.*

And, with the release of January data, Maine has hit 89.18% of the 2014 goal.

It’s now virtually guaranteed that Maine will hit and exceed the 2014 goal.

Women are 56% of Maine’s enrollees.

Maine is the oldest state in the country, so it shouldn’t be surprising that those signing up are older than the national figures.

And some stories are very Maine, like the efforts to sign up lobstermen

As The Working Waterfront reports, their need for insurance has been high:

A 2006 Gulf of Maine Research Institute study on the economic well-being of lobstermen found that nearly a quarter carried no health insurance, which is more than double the rate of those without insurance among the rest of the New England population.

In the Downeast region, that figure climbs to some 50 percent of lobstermen, says Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA).  That means many Maine lobstermen live one accident away from losing their livelihood, and many others forgo even basic health care because of the cost, she said.

“A lot of lobstermen live in pain,” McCarron said.

So the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) has been doing outreach and working with navigators in island and coastal communities.

One MLA staff member, April Gilmore, focuses on helping lobstermen get insurance.

So far, Gilmore reports she has worked with over 1,000 people through community meetings, one-on-one meetings, and phone calls. Now that the government website is running smoothly, the signup process has been going fairly well. Often, fishermen can successfully sign up for insurance over the phone.

With about 20,000 Mainers now signed up for insurance through the marketplace, it may be that 5% — that 1,000 — are fishermen and lobstermen helped by Gilmore.

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* Note: State goals set by the federal government were made after states running their own exchanges set their own goals.

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.