Maine successfully reverses the rising trend in health insurance premiums for many small businesses and reduces the proposed increase in premiums in the individual market as health insurers’ rates are finalized for plan year 2023
Governor Janet Mills announced today that small businesses in Maine will see their first annual average reduction in health insurance premiums since at least 2001.
According to final weighted average rates (PDF) submitted by health insurance companies and approved by the Maine Bureau of Insurance for the plan year 2023, the premiums for the small group market – serving employers with 50 or fewer workers – they will decrease by 0.8 percent, a reduction from an initially proposed increase of 3.42 percent.
It is the first time that average health insurance premiums have fallen in the small group market since at least 2001, when such rates began to be constantly monitored, and it is a direct result of Governor Mills’ Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, which it united the small group and individual markets and extended the protections of the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA) to the small group market. The federal government approved the merger through Maine’s first state innovation waiver in July 2022.
The reduction in Maine comes as average small-group premiums in many other northeastern states will increase, including Rhode Island (PDF) an average of 11.5 percent (according to preliminary documents), Vermont (PDF) in average 11.7 to 18.3 percent, in Connecticut with an average of 14.8 percent and in New York with an average of 7.9 percent.
Meanwhile, the increase in the final weighted average rate in the individual market is 11.4%, a reduction from the initially proposed average increase of 14.72%. But thanks to the expanded eligibility of the American Rescue Plan for premium tax credits through the Inflation Reduction Act, more people in Maine than ever are now eligible for financial assistance, which will largely protect them from these awards. higher.
Federal tax credits limit the maximum contribution that eligible consumers pay to a percentage of their income, helping protect them from premium increases. According to the White House (PDF), as a result of the extension of premium credits, 59,000 Maine residents could save hundreds on health insurance premiums, including 15,000 small business owners and self-employed who purchase individual coverage. Additionally, 14,000 more Maine residents could have health insurance next year than they would without the new law. These health insurance premium tax credits are available through CoverME.gov.
While individual tariffs are significantly increasing nationwide for plan year 2023 for a variety of reasons, such as the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, Maine’s foregoing state innovation has mitigated the impact of these influences. Without the derogation, tariffs would have increased by an average of 14.7 per cent in the individual market and by an average of 12 per cent in the small group market.
“Thanks to the law I proposed and signed, we are reversing the trend of steadily increasing health insurance costs for many small businesses for the first time since at least 2001. This is a win for many small Maine businesses and their hardworking ones. employees who rely on the small group market for health insurance, and it couldn’t come at a better time. As small businesses in Maine grapple with the high costs of inflation, this is one less thing they will have to worry about. ” said Governor Janet Mills. “I am proud of these advances under our watch. It builds on my Jobs Plan initiative which is also lowering costs for small businesses and their employees, and sends the message to Maine small business owners and those interested in starting businesses here that we will do everything we can to get your back.
“Governor Mills advised us from the start to take action to help small business owners offer their workers affordable health insurance.” said Jeanne Lambbrew, Commissioner for Health and Human Services. “This good small business result comes from the collaboration between the Bureau of Insurance and the Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace, the bipartisan support of the Maine state legislature, our partnership with Maine insurance companies and strong and consistent leadership. of the Governor. “
“The adjusted premium rates are very encouraging and show the positive impact of the united market, particularly for the small group market, which has seen a trend of strong increases in recent years,” said Timothy Schott, Acting Superintendent of the Bureau of Insurance.
Signed into law in March 2020, Governor Mills’ Made for Maine Health Coverage Act helps increase coverage and keep premiums low, saving individuals and employees in small businesses money on health care costs.
“From day one, our goal has been to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible for working families, small business owners and seniors. Together, we have enshrined basic patient protections in state law, passed laws to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and improve access to life-saving drugs, and worked to bring stability, efficiency and affordability to the health insurance market. ” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “Today’s news shows we’re moving in the right direction and delivering results for Maine’s people and small businesses. We still have a long way to go, but know that I will continue to do everything possible to ensure that every Mainer gets the health care they deserve.
Governor Mills and his team have worked proactively to make healthcare more accessible. The news on cost savings for employers is great. Employers want to do everything they can to recruit and retain employees, so benefits like health insurance are key. ” Biddeford President Ryan Fecteau said. “I commend Governor Mills’ team and Maine Bureau of Insurance experts for having the foresight and creativity to propose the Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, then work with the legislator to support it. It was a wise move that is bearing fruit ”.
“As the Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Commission, I have spent the past four years working to make it easier for the people of Maine to access affordable health coverage and ensure that small business owners, like me, can offer health care plans to their employees. I have also seen firsthand how the cost of health care has become a huge challenge for small businesses across the state. that’s why I was proud to collaborate with my colleagues in the legislature and the Mills administration on a new law to reduce costs for small businesses and employees “, said Senator Heather Sanborn, D-Portland. “By merging the individual and small group health insurance markets, we have sought to reduce premiums for people insured through their small employer, make it easier for small businesses to offer insurance and stabilize the market. Maine people and businesses will finally begin to experience these savings. “
“Our committee has sided with consumers and small businesses, honoring their experiences and needs in our effort to make insurance more affordable. This kind of impact on cost reduction is not easy to achieve, but this milestone shows that we are on a path that is worthwhile. ” said Denise Tepler of Topsham, House Speaker of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. “Making progress on accessibility was our goal. Today we have proof that it is working, with lower insurance costs for small businesses. “
Under the law, Maine became the first state in the nation under the Affordable Care Act 1332 waiver program to provide federally supported reinsurance to both small employers and individuals. MGARA, backed by federal funding and taxes on health insurers, pays part of the cost of more expensive health bills by lowering and stabilizing health insurance premiums. On July 15, 2022, Maine received approval from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the waiver.
The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act builds on the work also done by the Mills administration to make health coverage more affordable for small Maine businesses. In 2021, Governor Mills dedicated $ 39 million through her Maine Jobs and Remediation Plan to launch the Small Business Health Care Program that lowers the cost of monthly health insurance premiums for small businesses. and their employees.
Under the program, health insurers receive financial assistance to reduce premiums for their small business customers by $ 50 per covered worker per month and up to $ 130 per month for family coverage. The program is expected to continue until April 2023.
Maine individuals and families, as well as small businesses, can learn more about their coverage options at the Maine state market, CoverME.gov, the one-stop shop for comprehensive, comprehensive medical coverage supported by federal and state protections .