Health Insurance plans

(The Center Square) – Maine is leading the nation in reducing the number of residents who don't have health insurance coverage, according to newly released U.S. Census data.

Last year, the number of Mainers who were uninsured dropped to 5.7% – a decline of more than 2 percentage points from 2019, when about 8% of residents were uninsured.

That's the largest decline of any state during that period, according to a newly published Census Bureau report, bumping Maine up from the 26th- to the 14th-lowest uninsured rate in the nation. Only Idaho saw similar gains during that time period.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat seeking reelection in November, seized on the report to tout her administration's work to expand health insurance for low-income Maine residents.

"Now more Maine people can see a doctor, afford medications, and receive preventive care, keeping families and our economy both healthy," Mills said in a statement.

The state's efforts to expand insurance coverage has been helped by a 2017 voter approved law that authorized expansion of the state's federally-backed Medicaid programs.

Under the expansion, the federal government covers about 90% of the cost of premiums for adults ages 19-64 who qualify to receive Medicaid coverage.

Nearly 98,000 low-income residents are now covered through the program, which the Mills administration said has helped approximately one in 10 residents afford health coverage.

Despite the gains, Maine's uninsured rate is still the highest among New England states with an estimated 76,000 residents going without health insurance last year.

Massachusetts had the lowest rate nationwide, at 2.5% last year, followed by Vermont's 3.7%, according to the census data.